Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

David Cheshier

Second Advisor

Tim Barouch

Third Advisor

Patricia Davis

Fourth Advisor

Holley Wilkin


This dissertation examines six characteristics of memory in accordance with the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 is a major event that has changed how society operates. With the conjunction of digital archives, memory performances have changed. In light of a major world pandemic and the shift to the digital a reassessment of memory is needed. 1) With many museums physically closed, the context of the pandemic with the affordances of technology allowed for memory to symbolically be performed through the digital archives. The future of memory studies must contend with digital archives as memory performances. 2) Computer assisted analysis may help with decoding a broad set, but the human aspect cannot be overlooked. Examining the digital archived COVID-19 memory showcases the importance of human analysis when understanding trauma and trauma recovery. 3) The rapid speed of memory making today and the reduced distance between event and recollection requires memory studies to evaluate the role of time and distance. The expedited memory making creates more references for others to use and abuse increasing the importance of rhetoric to understand all the available means of persuasion. 4) While the digital opens up room for multiple voices, it also allows individuals to be selective. Future memory studies must be aware of how memory performances are used to create echo chambers in order to attract likeminded newcomers and establish a group identity. 5) From the partisan and contested voices, COVID-19 and the digital have created new ways to forget the other. Memory studies must take on the mantle of exposing the silencing of inequalities. 6) Evaluating the characteristics of collective memory after COVID-19 and the increase of digital archives demonstrates the importance of rhetoric. With the trouble of truth and the disconnectedness between institutions and the people, rhetoric becomes integral in solving the issues of society.


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