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How Modernity Forgets
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  • Cited by 142
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    This book has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

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    Ryan, David 2018. Book review: In Praise of Forgetting: Historical Memory and Its IroniesRieffDavidIn Praise of Forgetting: Historical Memory and Its Ironies. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2016. 145 pp. $25.00.. Memory Studies, Vol. 11, Issue. 2, p. 257.

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Book description

Why are we sometimes unable to remember events, places and objects? This concise overview explores the concept of 'forgetting', and how modern society affects our ability to remember things. It takes ideas from Francis Yates classic work, The Art of Memory, which viewed memory as being dependent on stability, and argues that today's world is full of change, making 'forgetting' characteristic of contemporary society. We live our lives at great speed; cities have become so enormous that they are unmemorable; consumerism has become disconnected from the labour process; urban architecture has a short life-span; and social relationships are less clearly defined - all of which has eroded the foundations on which we build and share our memories. Providing a profound insight into the effects of modern society, this book is a must-read for anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists and philosophers, as well as anyone interested in social theory and the contemporary western world.


'How Societies Remember was a tightly argued account of the importance of habitual, bodily memory to cultural transmission; How Modernity Forgets is a substantive cultural diagnosis of modernity, centred on the theme of cultural amnesia … It … [says] what it says with the sort of clarity that puts most cultural analysis to shame. Modernity … has displaced social life from place and replaced the known with the merely known about. In a series of superb historical vignettes Connerton shows that this has occurred in three ways: through the dismantling of the city frontier in the nineteenth century and the growth of megacities in the twentieth, through the development of superhuman speed … and through ‘the repeated intentional destruction of the built environment’ … via suburbanization, deindustrialization and urban renewal.'

Source: The British Journal of Sociology

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