Emptying the Attic: The Family Archive in Transition by Gunnþórunn Guðmundsdóttir

The genre of autobiography makes for a compelling platform from which to view the changing nature of remembrance, memory and narrative. Autobiography has in the past often described the author’s encounter with the family archive, often a limited archive which at most provides the authors with letters, photographs, and diaries. Authors might revisit and reconstruct the family archive in their texts. This is a feature of autobiographical texts which draws attention to the writing moment, to the future oriented nature of the texts, and to the attempts the authors make, when searching for or trawling through the family archive, at discovering and reworking the past for the future. In the present day we are faced with profound changes to this archive through its digitization. There the emphasis is by default on preserving and remembering, possibly leading to an over-abundance of archival material the autobiographer has to grapple with. This paper will address the different challenges this technology poses to the politics and performance of memory in its trajectory from textual representation of the dispersed and limited family archive to the continuous recording and preservation we engage in with our daily self-expression on social media.

Iceland – Ireland: Memory, Literature, Culture on the Atlantic Periphery

Iceland and Ireland, two North-Atlantic islands on the periphery of Europe, share a long history that reaches back to the ninth century. Direct contact between the islands has ebbed and flowed like their shared Atlantic tides over the subsequent millennium, with long blanks and periods of apparently very little exchange, transit or contact. These relational and regularly ruptured histories, discontinuities and dispossessions are discussed here less to cover (again) the well-trodden ground of our national traditions. Rather, this volume productively illuminates how a variety of memory modes, expressed in trans-cultural productions and globalized genre forms, such as museums cultures, crime novels, the lyric poem, the medieval codex or historical fiction, operate in multi-directional ways as fluid transnational agents of change in and between the two islands. At the same time, there is an alertness to the ways in which physical, political and linguistic isolation and exposure have also made these islands places of forgetting.

Noir in the North: Genre, Politics, Place

Edited by Gunnþórunn Guðmundsdóttir and Stacy Gillis

What is often termed ‘Nordic Noir’ has dominated detective fiction, film and television internationally for over two decades. But what are the parameters of this genre, both historically and geographically? What is noirish and what is northern about Nordic noir? The foreword and coda in this volume, by two internationally-bestselling writers of crime fiction in the north, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and Gunnar Staalesen, speak to the social contract undertaken by writers of noir, while the interview with the renowned crime writer Val McDermid adds nuance to our understanding of what it is to write noir in the North.

Divided into four sections – Gender and Sexuality, Space and Place, Politics and Crime, and Genre and Genealogy – Noir in the North challenges the traditional critical histories of noir by investigating how it functions transnationally beyond the geographical borders of Scandinavia. The essays in this book deepen our critical understanding of noir more generally by demonstrating, for example, Nordic noir’s connection to fin-de-siècle literatures and to mid-century interior design, and by investigating the function of the state in crime fiction.

New issue of a/b autobiography studies out now

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Gunnthorunn Gudmundsdottir, “The Online Self: Memory and Forgetting in the Digital Age,” European Journal of Life Writing, vol 3 (2014)

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