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Past Obsessions: World War II in History and Memory

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Albin O. Kuhn Library, 7th Floor



Carole Gluck, Distinguished Lecturer, Association for Asian Studies and Department of History, Columbia University


More than sixty-five years after it ended, the Second World War remains a contested issue in history and memory. How do examples from Europe, Asia, and North America help us to understand both how public memory operates in contemporary societies and how entrenched national war stories change—or do not change—over time? And what are the challenges posed by the present surge of memory for what we used to call history?


Carol Gluck writes on modern Japan and East Asia,  twentieth-century global history, World War II, and the history-writing and  public memory. At Columbia she has taught undergraduates, graduate students,  and students in the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) for more  than thirty years.


She has contributed to innovations in undergraduate  education at Columbia and around the country, most recently in a four-year  $2-million project on Expanding East Asian Studies (www.exeas.org).  Her PhD students now teach in universities across the United States, Asia, and  Europe.


A prize-winning historian, her most recent book is Words  in Motion: Toward a Global Lexicon, coedited with Anna Tsing (Duke  University Press, 2009). Thinking with the Past: Modern Japan and History, will be published by the University of California Press in 2013, and Past  Obsessions: World War II in History and Memory is forthcoming from Columbia  University Press. Her most recent article is “The End of Elsewhere : Writing  Modernity Now,” American Historical Review (June 2011). Her lectures and  conferences this past year included presentations in Leiden, Tokyo, and  universities in the United States. She also moderates a seminar at the Aspen  Institute each summer.


Professor Gluck received her BA from Wellesley in 1962 and  her PhD from Columbia in 1977. She joined the Columbia faculty in 1975.

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