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University Writing and Research Symposium
The George Washington University


The following is a sample of the kind of message you might send to a Symposium presenter, as discussed on the guidelines for responding. Adapt freely.
Dear Danielle Freedman,

I enjoyed attending the roundtable on Memorialization: A Challenge to Memory at which you delivered your paper, "(_____)gate: Watergate's Haunting Effect on the American Psyche." In the context of the other roundtable papers about the national commemoration of things we'd like to remember (such as the American struggle and victory in WWII), I thought your research added an interesting twist by asking us to think about how we commemorate those things we would rather forget. As you'll remember, I asked you in the Q & A whether you thought all the more recent "gates" - Monicagate, WMDgate, etc. - by their very multiplication had led us to think of Watergate as less scandalous than it really was. In other words (I don't think I was as clear as I wanted to be at the session), was it now so easy to attach "-gate" to anything that Watergate just seemed like another potential late night TV comedian punchline and not like a singular historical moment that represented a profound shift in how citizens thought about their government?

I appreciated your candor in admitting that you hadn't thought of the issue in quite that way, and I was impressed by your ability to think on the fly and answer the question in a way that folded in ideas from the other papers on the roundtable. I paraphrase, but you said something like, yes, there might be a certain amount of trivialization in our adding "-gate" to any and every minor scandal. But, it was more than made up for by the fact that this kind of naming at least kept the memory of Watergate alive and well, and not just some artifact thrown into the dustbin of history. And you suggested that this was probably the best we could hope for, because no momument to Watergate was ever going to be constructed next to the WWII Memorial on the National Mall. Very smart and funny. I've thought about your answer since, and I largely agree. Though I do think it's worth considering not only whether is something is remembered, but how it is remembered, since it is how something is remembered that shapes our current politics and practice.

So thanks again for a really stimulating session, and I hope the work goes well as you work toward turning your presentation into your final research paper.


Ryan Jerving
UW20 Section 48