About the Placing Memory Project

The Placing Memory website is an open-ended digital map of the commemorative landscape of Southwestern University, a small private Methodist-affiliated liberal arts university located in Georgetown, Texas.

The site features dozens of location-based entries researched and written by Southwestern undergraduate students and edited by Bob Bednar, Project Director, Professor of Communication Studies, and 1989 Southwestern alumnus.

These student-produced entries either analyze and critique existing memory places or advocate for developing new memory places. You can access the stories by clicking on pins on the story map, following links to featured stories or random stories, or doing a “tour” that connects related stories together.

Mixed into the student entries is a set of entries written by Megan Firestone, the Head of Special Collections & Archives at Southwestern. These entries, organized under the tour called, “Historic Campus Walking Tour,” represent the institutional history of specific places on campus.

The Placing Memory project overall was funded by a “Reframing the Institutional Saga” grant provided by NetVUE/CIC (Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education and Council of Independent Colleges).  The broader purpose of the grant program is to enable private schools like Southwestern with long histories to critically reckon with the complexity of their histories and work to reconcile them with their current realities and future goals as universities. 

In the spirit of the “Reframing the Institutional Saga” grant and the commitments of the original Summer 2023 research team, we do not want our work here to settle questions about the cultural and spatial politics of memory on campus. We want to stimulate critical engagement so that any future version of our institutional saga is inclusive in showing stories about who and what matters from our past as we navigate the present and build towards the future.

We want the website to grow and change as more and more student, faculty, staff, and alumni researchers associated with Southwestern engage with it over time and build new entries while also critiquing and reframing existing entries. We hope this more open-ended, multivocal approach to our institutional saga also provides a model for how Southwestern could represent its pasts, presents, and potential futures differently moving forward.

If you already are connected to Southwestern, we hope that you will engage with the website as a tool to help you think about the particular patterns of remembrance and forgetting present on campus today, and then work together with other members of the community to create a more inclusive commemorative landscape on campus in the future.

If you are not already connected to Southwestern, we hope you engage with the website as a way to learn about how a small liberal arts university like Southwestern with a long history works to reconcile who it was with who it is and who it will become. 

To learn more about the background, context, and purpose of the Placing Memory project, follow the links below:

Behind the Scenes of the Research

The Legacy of Southwestern's History as an Institution

Southwestern's Dominant Institutional Saga

Scholarly and Cultural Context