Cultural Memory Studies
James E. Young is Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of English and Judaic & Near Eastern Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he has taught since 1988, and Founding Director of the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies at UMass Amherst.
He is widely-regarded as an international expert on memorial art.
He was appointed by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to the jury for the “National 9/11 Memorial” design competition, won by Michael Arad and Peter Walker in 2004 and opened on September 11, 2011.
He was appointed by the Berlin Senate to the Findungskommission for Germany's national "Memorial to Europe's Murdered Jews and consulted with Argentina’s government on its memorial to the desaparacidos, as well as with numerous city agencies on their memorials and museums.
University of California, Santa Cruz: Ph.D.
University of California, Berkeley: M.A.
University of California, Santa Cruz: B.A.
Select Media Coverage (5)
Philly Holocaust memorial will update itself with a new mural
James Young, Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of English and Judaic & Near Eastern Studies, is scheduled to participate in an event in Philadelphia to launch a process in which a mural will be added to the city’s 60-year-old Holocaust memorial plaza.Young, who has been part of major memorial projects including New York’s 9/11 memorial, a Holocaust memorial in Berlin and a memorial for the victims of a mass shooting in Las Vegas, says, “There’s nothing more invisible than a memorial once people get used to it … The memorial sites that build into themselves the ability to accommodate another generation’s memory and their own reasons for coming to it, are the memorials that really live on.”
Memorials honoring COVID-19 deaths emerge in states nationwide
Memorials to honor the more than 600,000 Americans who have died from the coronavirus are emerging in states around the country, but a national memorial may be far off ... State memorials can more easily capture the nuances of remembering the government's response to the pandemic — which is intertwined with remembering the lives lost, according to James Young, founding director of the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Institute for Holocaust, Genocide and Memory Studies.
What it means to build a memorial monument
Daily Hamshire Gazette
“No memorial means one thing to everybody,” James E. Young, professor emeritus of English and Judaic & Near Eastern studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said at a recent talk at Edwards Church exploring the role of memorials.
How Do Other Nations Memorialize Their Past Atrocities?
“Most countries have been pretty reluctant or just don’t know how to commemorate periods of shame or national crimes perpetrated in the national name. No country is very good at it, and we haven’t been very good at it, either,” said James E. Young, a professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who has consulted for governments on how to memorialize their pasts.
Interview: How Tragedy Is Remembered—James Young
New England Public Media online
In a podcast interview, James Young explores memory and how we remember public tragedies. Young says, "Memory and forgetting are two sides of the same coin ... there's no real line. They feed into each other."
Select Publications (2)
The Stages of Memory: Reflections on Memorial Art, Loss, and the Spaces BetweenBook - University of Massachusetts Press
James E. Young
From around the world, whether for New York City's 9/11 Memorial, at exhibits devoted to the arts of Holocaust memory, or throughout Norway's memorial process for the murders at Utøya, James E. Young has been called on to help guide the grief stricken and survivors in how to mark their losses. This poignant, beautifully written collection of essays offers personal and professional considerations of what Young calls the "stages of memory," acts of commemoration that include spontaneous memorials of flowers and candles as well as permanent structures integrated into sites of tragedy. Winner of the 2017 National Council on Public History Book Award
The Texture of Memory: Holocaust Memorials and MeaningBook – Yale University Press
James E. Young
This fascinating work by James E. Young examines Holocaust monuments and museums in Europe, Israel, and America, exploring how every nation remembers the Holocaust according to its own traditions, ideals, and experiences, and how these memorials reflect their place in contemporary aesthetic and architectural discourse. The result is a groundbreaking study of Holocaust memory, public art, and their fusion in contemporary life.