ACLA 2018-The Story of Memory: Remembering, Forgetting, and Unreliable Narrators (UCLA, 3/29-4/1, 2018)

deadline for submissions: 
September 21, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
American Comparative Literature Association
contact email: 

CFP: ACLA 2018

The Story of Memory: Remembering, Forgetting, and Unreliable Narrators

UCLA, Los Angeles, CA

March 29-April 1, 2018

Abstract Submission Deadline: September 21st , 2017


Contact: Mavis Tseng

Assistant Professor, Taipei Medical University



 “We talk about our memories, but should perhaps talk more about our forgettings, even if that is a more difficult – or logically impossible – feat.”

Julian Barnes, Nothing to Be Frightened of


This seminar aims to explore the precarious nature of remembering and forgetting in contemporary literature and film. Milan Kundera tells us that memory is not the opposite of forgetting; rather, forgetting could be another type of memory. We read stories not only written to remember, but also to forget, edit, or even recreate the past (The Sense of an EndingAtonement, and Remainder). Through the voice of an unreliable narrator, writers tend to create a disturbing literary space (a site of remembering and forgetting). Their narratives betray the absence of what is described (memory vs. misremembering; the visible vs. the invisible), leading us to question the malleability and fallibility of memory.


As Elizabeth Loftus puts it, memory is like a Wikipedia page—true memories can be obliterated and false ones added, either by ourselves or by others. Theories in memory studies (“flashbulb memory,” “photographic memory,” “verbal overshadowing,” and more recently, Julia Shaw’s study on “memory hacker” and “memory illusion”) facilitate our exploration on traumatic memory, false memory, collective memory, and amnesia in contemporary representation. This seminar will focus on the following questions: What is the relationship between memory and forgetting? What kind of memory is legitimate? Is it possible to write against memory? How do our memories fill in missing details? How do writing, verbal representation, and technologies influence our ways of remembering? How does the way memory functions in the 21st century change the way we think about ourselves and the way we represent our past?


Potential topics include (but are not limited to):

memory and forgetting

unreliable narrator

memory and metamodernism

memory illusion

nostalgia and anachronism

postmemory, rememory

trauma, melancholy, and other backward affects

images and memory

collective memory

memory in the digital age

gendered memory

recollection, re-enactment


Please send a 300 word abstract and a short bio through the ACLA portal ( by Thursday, September 21, 2017 at 9 a.m. EST. Please select “The Story of Memory: Remembering, Forgetting, and Unreliable Narrators” in the Seminar drop box. If you have any questions about this seminar, please feel free to contact Dr. Mavis Tseng at