Context Is Everything: The Nature Of Memory

Susan Engel

What are the defining characteristics of memory? What determines what is remembered and how much it is emphasized? In Context Is Everything, Susan Engel explores how the place, company, purpose, and situation--the context of the recollection--profoundly affects the essence and experience of a memory. Beginning with memory's most intimate setting--an exchange between a mother and a small child--Engel explores memory's function in such varied circumstances as a trial, a therapy session, the construction of our public persona, and the formulation of an autobiography. Blending vivid anecdotes with the startling findings of memory research, Engel examines the implications of context and purpose for memory, including one's motivation to remember and the strength or quality of the memory itself. She traces the trajectory of a memory from the moment of conception in the mind, through its social realization, and back to the owner, settling in his or her repertoire of the past. And she looks at memory as fodder for history--what is the basis for what we know and pass on? Beautifully written and filled with fresh insights on such contested issues as recovered memory and remembered testimony,Context Is Everythingis both an informative and engaging read.

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