My teaching

Evidence-Focused First Year Seminar

SOC 190-1

How Societies Remember

Professor Bin Xu

Fall 2018

Monday and Wednesday 4:00PM – 5:15PM

Ignatius Few Building 131

Office Hours: 1:15PM-2:15PM Monday and Wednesday (by appointment)

Office: Tarbutton 211

The instructor reserves the right to make changes to this syllabus at any time during the course.

Course Description

This course aims to gain a deeper and broader understanding of “collective memory” or “social memory,” an interdisciplinary field which addresses how societies perceive their past. It introduces students to many topics related to this theme, including war and memory, memorials, museums, oral history, historical reputation, and so on. Readings, documentaries, and various cultural objects, such as literature, movies, fine arts, and music, are utilized to facilitate lectures and discussions.

This course will be conducted as a seminar. Instead of the instructor lecturing all the time, learning will take place through a combination of lecturing, discussion, collaboration, and field visits. Enthusiastic engagement on the part of every student is vital to the success of this course.

Evidence-Based Learning Outcomes

This is an evidence-focused first-year seminar. We will pay much attention to the use of evidence, defined here as “that which supports or challenges a claim, theory, or argument.” (Adapted and synthesized from the Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster Dictionary.) Our engagement with evidence, part of a College-wide initiative, will seek to address the following goals of learning outcomes:

  1. Learning outcome 1: Distinguish uses of evidence between different disciplines. Collective memory is an interdisciplinary field and opens to different types of evidence and methodologies. But students are expected to learn what types of evidence (for example, observation, experiment, survey, narratives, archives, and so on) involved disciplines, including sociology, psychology, history, and cultural studies, use.
  2. Learning Outcome 2: Identify, select, and gather evidence.
  • Distinguish between primary and secondary evidence.
  • Identify and access evidence using effective, well-designed search strategies and most appropriate sources.
  • Select evidence appropriate to the scope and criteria of the discipline, topic, and research question.
  • Gather or collect evidence for a particular research topic.
  1. Leaning Outcome 3: Evaluate and analyze evidence:
  • Evaluate evidence according to criteria established in the course.
  • Analyze evidence thoroughly and systematically
  1. Leaning Outcome 4: Build arguments based on evidence and assess the arguments of others
  • Develop a clear research question and an evidence-based argument
  • Use appropriate evidence to build or support the argument or answer the research question
  • Read model articles and discuss how the articles use evidence to build argument

Required Assignments

The required assignments will include the following items.

  1. Evidence-Based Scholarly Article Reading(15%):

Students are expected to select a scholarly article from a journal to learn how a research paper collects, uses, and analyzes evidence and how it builds its arguments based on evidence. In addition, students will learn the basic format of a research paper, including literature review, theory, empirical analysis, and conclusion.

  • Students sign up for a broad topic related to memory. Topics will be given in class.
  • Choose one article in Memory Studies(5%).
  • Use a reading template to summarize the articles with a particular focus on evidence use. The template will be given in class (10%).
  1. Evidence-Based Assignments(15%):
  • Write a response essayto a movie which is screened in class and discuss how movie can be used as evidence for memory research (5%)
  • Psychology Lab Visit: We will visit a psychology lab at Emory to learn how psychologists work on memory as opposed to the majority of the memory literature we learn in this class. Read relevant materials, take notes of the visit and speech, and write a memo about how psychological research uses evidence (5%)
  • Lecture Memo: Attend a lecture that the instructor arranges in class time. Write a memoabout how the speaker uses evidence in his/her project (5%).
  1. Evidence-Based Research Paper Project(55%):
  • Initial topic and research question (5%): Students come up with an interested topic and a research question.
  • Discussion and feedback: In-class discussion of the topic and receive feedback from the instructor and fellow students.
  • Revised research question and bibliography (5%): In accordance with the feedback, students revise the research question. Meanwhile, come up with a bibliography of existing literature and evidence.
  • Presentations (10%): Students present their work-in-progress, which includes an annotated outline of claims, arguments and some analysis of evidence. Receive further feedback from the class.
  • Individual consultation: Students sign up with the instructor to discuss their specific concerns of paper.
  • Final research paper (35%): final paper is due by the end of the term.


  1. Viet Thanh Nguyeh. 2016. Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War. Harvard University Press. (Emory Bookstore)
  2. David W. Blight. 2001. Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. (Emory Bookstore)
  3. Sturken, Marita. 1997. Tangled memories: the Vietnam War, the AIDS epidemic, and the politics of remembering. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  4. (Recommended but not required) William Booth et al. The Craft of Research. University of Chicago Press.

The books can be purchased at Emory campus bookstore or from

Journal articlescan be downloaded from the library’s website.

Other readings(scanned book chapters) will be distributed via the online teaching system.

Attendance and Participation

Attendance is required and worth 10 points. The instructor will take attendance in the beginning/end of each class. Students who participate in University-sanctioned events, or have illness, or have emergency must inform the instructor in advance with appropriate verification documents. They also must make up any work they missed. Students who miss one (1) classwithout reasons will onlyget 5 for attendancecredit. Students who miss two (2) classeswill only get 2.5; those who miss more than two will not get any attendance credit. Participation in in-class discussion is required and worth 5 points.

Grade Distribution

Evidence-Based Scholarly Article Reading 15%

Evidence-Based Assignments: 15% (5% each)

Evidence-Focused Research Paper Project: 55%

Seminar Attendance and Participation: 15%



  • Read this syllabus carefully before asking questions.
  • I will also send periodic Canvas announcements and/or emails about any further course information. Please read all the written course communications thoroughly!
  • If you have questions after you have read everything in a particular course document (syllabus, paper instructions, study guide), then feel free to ask me.
  • Do NOT ask/email me questions that I have already answered in a course document or via posted announcement/emails. I will not respond to these questions.
  • I generally try to respond to emails within 24 hours, but I do not guarantee a response within 24 hrs. In most cases, students got my response on the same day.


Please be mindful of the general code of conduct that you would use in any classroom setting. I expect us all to be respectful of one another.

  • Please do not arrive late to class. If you have to run from a place far from the classroom building and are likely to be late, please let the instructor know beforehand.
  • Once in class, please refrain from carrying on private conversations with your neighbor(s). This is distracting for everyone else in the room.
  • Laptops are allowed for note-taking and occasional information-checking. Please refrain from checking Facebook or any other non-class activities during all class meetings. If you are found to be engaging in these activities, you will be asked to leave the classroom for the remainder of the class.
  • The use of cell phones is NOT permitted in this class.

Missed Classes

Youare responsible for missed material. Please get notes from your classmates. After you have read all of the missed material, if you still have questions, please come to my office hours.


You may not video or audiotape lectures without my express consent.

Extra Credit

There are noextra credit assignments available in this course.

Make-Up Policy

Makeup exams/assignments will only be allowed in a situation of an excused absence (e.g., illness, family emergency, university activities).

Academic Integrity

Students who are admitted to Emory College of Arts and Sciences agree to abide by the provisions of the Honor Code:

Access and Disabilities

If you have a documented disability and have anticipated barriers related to the format or requirements of this course, or presume having a disability (e.g. mental health, attention, learning, vision, hearing, physical or systemic), and are in need of accommodations for this semester, we encourage you to contact the Office of Access, Disability Services, and Resources (ADSR) to learn more about the registration process and steps for requesting accommodations. If you are a student that is currently registered with ADSR and have not received a copy of your accommodation notification letter within the first week of class, please notify ADSR immediately. Students who have accommodations in place are encouraged to coordinate sometime with your professor, during the first two weeksof the semester, to communicate your specific needs for the course as it relates to your approved accommodations. All discussions with ADSR and faculty concerning the nature of your disability remain confidential. For additional information regarding ADSR, please visit the website:


Reading and Class Schedule

# Date Topic Reading Activities
1 August 29 Introduction No Lecture and Discussion
2 September 5 Vietnam War Memory I Sturken: Tangled Memories. Chapter Two Film Screening: Maya Lin: Clear and Strong Vision
3 September 10 Vietnam War Memory II Sturken: Tangled Memories. Introduction and Chapter Three In-class discussion of the film on Maya Lin
4 September 12 Vietnam War Memory III Wagner-Pacifici, Robin, and Barry Schwartz. 1991. “The Vietnam Veterans Memorial: Commemorating a Difficult Past.”  American journal of sociology 97 (2):376-420. Discussion with a focus on evidence-based scholarly article reading
5 September 17 Vietnam War Memory IV Nguyen. Nothing Ever Dies Students sign up for a broad topic related to memory. Topics will be given in class.


6 September 19 Vietnam War Memory V Nguyen. Nothing Ever Dies Choose one article in Memory Studies (5%).
7 September 24 Lecture Deborah Davis (Yale University): “Weddings in Shanghai: Performing Happiness and Re-Verticalizing Kinship”
8 September 26 Vietnam War Memory VI Nguyen. Nothing Ever Dies Assignment due: Use a reading template to summarize the articles with a particular focus on the evidence use. The template will be given in class (10%).
9 October 1 Civil War Memory I Blight. Race and Reunion Assignment: Lecture memo (due on Oct 1)
10 October 3 Civil War Memory II Blight. Race and Reunion An article about Robert E. Lee stature removal and Charlottesville conflict Discussion about statures of civil war figures
11 October 10 Civil War Memory III Blight. Race and Reunion
12 October 15. Civil War Memory IV No. Civil war fictional film
13 October 17. Civil War Memory V Blight. Race and Reunion “Fictional Film as Evidence” essay due
14 October 22. Civil War Memory VI Blight. Race and Reunion
15 October 24. Research Paper Project Craft of Research(excerpts) Discussion of research Topic, question, and Evidence
16 October 29. Autobiographic Memory I DeGloma. Seeing the Light. (Excerpts) Research Paper Project: Initial topic and research question (5%)
17 October 31. Autobiographic Memory II DeGloma. Seeing the Light. (Excerpts)
18 November 5. Research Paper Project No Research Paper Project: Discussion and feedback: In-class discussion of the topic and receive feedback from the instructor and fellow students.
19 November 7. Librarian’s visit Discussion with the librarian on looking for primary and secondary sources
20 November 12. Autobiographic Memory III Oral History TBD 1.      Research Paper Project: Assignment Due. Revised research question and bibliography (5%):


21 November 14. Autobiographic Memory IV: Psychology lab visit Psychology of autobiographic memory TBD
22 November 19. Memory of Disaster I Xu, Bin. 2013. “Mourning Becomes Democratic.”  Contexts 12 (1):42-46. 1.      Research Paper Project: Individual consultation sign-up

2.      Psychology lab visit memo due


23 November 26. Memory of Disaster II No. Film screening: China’s Unnatural Disaster
24 November 28. Memory of Disaster III Xu, Bin. 2017. “Commemorating a difficult disaster: Naturalizing and denaturalizing the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China.”  Memory Studies Online first (February).
25 December 3. Memory of Disaster IV Sorace. Shaken Authority (book excerpts)
26 December 5. Mini Presentations No
27 December 10. Mini Presentations No




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