Areas of Research

a) Traumatic Memory – War Memory

Investigation into the cultural representations of trauma — social and individual —in relation to societal upheavals such as war. The aim is to examine literature, art and other forms of cultural production that articulate and address traumatic experience. In understanding the role of cultural representations in the wider debate on memory and forgetting (especially collective memory), and history and memory, the Centre will better be able to intervene in, and contribute to, such public debates.

b) Memory in Life Writing

Research into the role of memory in life writing, its various representations in autobiographical texts, its relation to narrative identity, and its influence on the writing of the self. Autobiography is the genre of memory and one of the ways in which we can identify and interrogate the relationship between identity, self, narrative and memory, which can shed light on our understanding of memory in writing and how it contributes to the public sphere. And yet autobiography, as a genre, has itself come under pressure from memory, leading to fruitful exchanges with other genres such as the novel. In addressing the issue of memory we also question the nature and role of contemporary literature.

c) Memory in Culture

Research on the varied representations of memory in culture, such as in public art, memorials, and the museum. This area would have a wider scope than the two themes above, so as to be able to include varied manifestations of memory in the wider culture, and could include investigation into different forms of media and their relationship to memory. This public dimension to memory and its physical manifestation, touches upon the ways in which a culture identifies itself and its relationship to the nation, and to a collective past. It looks at the pragmatics of cultural forms of memory: what objects are chosen, what sites are chosen and why?

d) Memory and the Nation

Examination of the role of collective memory in national identity and its various representations and expressions of that memory, is in many cases a highly contested area. National memory, or a nation’s historical memory, is one of the ways in which we think through the past and this type of memory impinges on the relationship between official national identity and a variety of memories that are based on class, gender, region, and political affiliation. Such divergent memories are sometimes in conflict, with each other, with official history, and offer a compelling insight into the critical importance of memory studies to the understanding of the politics of memory.

e) Memory and the Archive

Investigation of the complex web of connections between memory and the archive. The aim is to explore the dynamics of the archive in our ideas of the past, its connection to memory and the discourses it has generated. We look at the processes involved in constructing archives, at what is selected and what is made available to the public. What forms of archive are privileged? What, for example, is the relationship between documents of state and popular memories storied on audio tape? To what extent do archives lead to differing accounts of the past and how are these archives given form within literature?