In Occupying Memory, Trevor Hoag investigates the forces of trauma and mourning as deeply rhetorical to account for their capacity to seize one’s life. Rather than viewing memory as granting direct access to the past and as being readily accessible or pliant to human will, Hoag shows the past itself is a rhetorical production and trauma and mourning shatter delusions of sovereignty. By granting memory the power to persuade without an accompanying rhetorician and contending the past cannot become a reality without being written, Hoag highlights rhetoric’s indispensability while transforming its relationship to memorialization, trauma, narrative, death, mourning, haunting, and survival.
Along with examining how memory occupies life via trauma and mourning, Hoag shows what it might mean to “occupy” memory in return. Analyzing and deploying the rhetorical trope of occupatio, Hoag seizes the conceptual space or place of memory by re-inscribing it in ways that challenge hegemonic power while holding open that same space or place to keep memory “in question” and receptive to alternative futures to come. Hoag likewise demonstrates how one might occupy memory through insights gleaned by analyzing artifacts, media, events, and tropes from the Occupy Movement, a contemporary national and international movement for socio-economic justice.