competitive disaster memory

David Bergdahl bergdahl at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU
Sat Feb 5 20:36:00 UTC 2000

I think the mistake listers are making concerns what constitutes a public
event.  For those of us old enough to remember FDR's death, V-E and V-J
Day, Dewey's defeat, JFK's asassination, the murder of the Israeli Olympic
team at Munich, Nixon's resignation, the attempt on Reagan's life, the
Challenger explosion &c. we naturally think of public events those which
involve elected officials or public acts of violence committed against
representatives of some group (Munich, Challenger). However, in American
culture entertainment figures have that status as well.  Moreover, one
notices that in early adolescence identification with an individual singer
or a group is crucial in forming social groups.  How many footers of
e-mail messages of students refer to contemporary musicians? Ask your
classes to identify their favorite groups and from them it is easy to
construct sociograms.  So it should come as no surprise that the death of
John Lennon or Elvis should rank as highly memorable.  After all,
isn't Buddy Holly commemorated in the song "American Pie, or The day the
music died?"

David Bergdahl          Ellis Hall 366         Ohio University / Athens
Associate Prof/English  tel:  (740) 593-2783   fax:  (740) 593-2818
                        bergdahl at

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