ACLA 2014: Capitals of Memory and the Politics of Built Space (Deadline: November 1, 2013)

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American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA)
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The so-called "memory boom" that emerged in the second half of the twentieth century continues to raise a challenge for architects, politicians, and urban planners: how can a city accommodate the demand for memorials and other memory-sites while still ensuring the present and future livability of these locations? Not only the way we remember but also where we do so are enduring sources of controversy in Oklahoma City, Berlin, New York City, Paris, and elsewhere. Since Pierre Nora first made the oft-cited claim that memory "attaches itself to sites," critical scrutiny of memory discourses has centered on the content of and meaning assigned to designated "places of memory." And yet, this thinking has sometimes reinforced the idea that life proceeds in one location and memory in another.

This seminar thus considers the ways in which cultural memory forms and circulates in the built space of the living city. What does it mean to build a sign of the past into the bustling present of a national or global capital? In what ways does this change the meaning of that being memorialized? How do these memory-sites, in turn, alter our understanding of the present? What does it mean for a city to be a capital of memory? Topics could include but are not limited to: cultures of tourism; the design, politics, and funding of memorials; the Holocaust and urban memory-sites; literary works engaging the city as a site of memory; the 9/11 Memorial and Museum; and the transnationalism of modern-day memorials.

NYU is hosting ACLA 2014 over the weekend of March 20-23. Please submit paper proposals (max. 250 words) through ACLA's website and select this seminar from the drop-down list: