Cognitive Faulkner

deadline for submissions: 
October 31, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
2021 American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA)
contact email: 

“Memory believes before knowing remembers, believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders.” In this passage from Light in August, Faulkner articulates memory’s persistence. His recognition that emotionally charged memories linger even as details fade is why, for Faulkner, “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

The relationship between past and present has since Faulkner’s time been complicated by cognitive science. In the words of Daniel Schacter, “remembering the past is not merely a matter of activating or awakening a dormant trace or picture in the mind, but instead involves a far more complex interaction between the current environment, what one expects to remember, and what is retained from the past.” This seminar asks how sensory perception in Faulkner’s work intersects with the current historical moment. With its diachronic reach and polyphonic narration, his oeuvre illustrates how past trauma lives on in ‘individual’ minds and bleeds through generations. Reading Faulkner in light of the Black Lives Matter movement, whose exigencies include a reckoning with the fact that the US’ past is “not even past,” we aim to address the relationship between memory and race with attention to the construction of characters' minds.

Topics may include:

How race, gender, class, and culture shape embodied cognition and emotion
Memory, denial, and trauma
Faulkner and African American literature
Cross-cultural and comparative readings of Faulkner and cognition

Faulkner and translation

For details or questions about application, please email co-organizer John Schranck, PhD Candidate in Comparative Literature at UCSB, at