ACTS OF REMEMBRANCE IN CONTEMPORARY NARRATIVES IN ENGLISH: OPENING THE PAST FOR THE FUTURE. 24-26 APRIL 2013
Memorials, commemorations, testimonies, memoirs, narratives that attempt to excavate traumatic memories from their ruins and ashes or to reconstruct an all too painful individual or collective historical past … All these acts of remembrance have become hallmarks of our contemporary age: the age of trauma, victims and perpetrators. And all of these exert an essential role in bearing witness to the omission, presence, and even (re)-imagining of certain events, either hegemonic or marginal, thus posing challenges to memory's inherent selectivity and distortions. The presence of past traumatic memories can be as revealing as unsettling; it may open new paths of ontological and epistemological enquiry and, yet, simultaneously or alternatively, close all venues of collective and personal remembrance. However poignant and overwhelming the traces of the past may be, particularly in the act of remembering moments of rupture, displacement and extreme suffering, such remains must be acknowledged and embraced for any possible future to exist. If we are to move beyond a teleological and linear conception of memory in which pain and suffering are left out for the sake of historical and personal progress, attention should be paid to those remnants as they may become the germ for new perspectives on social and political interventions.
By approaching acts of remembrance – and hope – as creative acts of rethinking and appropriating the past, this conference seeks to address the tension between a past that has been forcibly silenced and a present that, as Walter Benjamin reminds us, must acknowledge that "there is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism" (Theses on the Philosophy of History, VII). The search for woven patterns of remembrance between past and present will hopefully result in more productive sites of experience from which to forge alternative paradigms of remembering and of building and living the future.
We welcome contributions that explore these and other related issues.
Suggested topics for discussion include, but are not limited to:
• Memory and testimony narratives in contemporary literatures in English.
• Exile and memory.
• Memory traces: past, present and future acts of remembrance.
• Loss, mourning, commemoration and ritual.
• Antidepressant narratives: rewriting melancholia and sorrow.
• The ethics and politics of productive mourning in contemporary narratives in English.
• Narrative modes and genres of excess: indirect representations of trauma.
• A poetics of telling: formal experimentation and the depathologization of victimhood.
• Feminism and remembrance.
• Collective remembrance and institutional powers.
• Queer remembrance and the subversion of heteronormative modes of narration.
• Affects, ethics and aesthetics in contemporary narratives in English.
• Narratives of resilience and recovery.
• Narratives of disability and body politics.
• Narratives of violence.
• The use and abuse of trauma as a new cultural paradigm.
Abstracts between 400-500 words should be sent to the organizers by December 1st, 2012. Author information is to be sent in a separate sheet, including name, filiation, contact address, a bio-note and a paper title.
Constanza del Río (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Maite Escudero (email@example.com)
Dpto. de Filología Inglesa y Alemana
Facultad de Filosofía y Letras. Campus San Francisco
Universidad de Zaragoza