On Tuesday, 27 February, a one-day Colloquium on “Remembering
and Forgetting” was organised on behalf of the Department
of European Studies and Modern Languages’s research cluster ‘Memory,
History, Identity’ by Dr Axel Goodbody.
The ‘Memory, History, Identity’ group
is one of six Research Clusters which emerged in the Department
following the restructuring of our research activities in 2006.
Among our first activities last Autumn was the invitation of
3 speakers from other UK universities: Dr Andrea Mammone (Leeds),
Dr Mari Paz Balibrea (Birkbeck), and Dr Anke Kramer (Newcastle)
spoke about their work in memory studies in Italian, Spanish
and German politics and culture respectively. Two members of
the Department, Professor Anna Bull and Dr Axel Goodbody, also
This Colloquium, which was our first formal
event, was arranged as an opportunity for members of the Department
to present an aspect of their current work, to listen to each
other, and to invite experts to present papers and participate
in a discussion about future work in memory research.
The colloquium programme included
five papers by members of the Department of European Studies
and Modern Languages at Bath, on subjects ranging from trauma
and memory in German autobiographical writing (David Clarke),
to the deliberate forgetting of the French exodus of 1940 by
French historians (Hannah Diamond), the films of Agnes Varda
(Peter Wagstaff), wine drinking and national identity in France
(Marion Demossier), and the importance of the losing one’s
memory in teenage drinking practices in the UK (Christine Griffin).
centrepiece of the Colloquium was a public lecture by Professor
Aleida Assmann on ‘Ghosts of the Past in Literature
Professor Assmann, who is Professor of English and Literary
Theory at the University of Konstanz, is a leading scholar
in the field of Memory Studies. Her name is associated in particular
with the concept of Cultural Memory, which she has developed
together with her husband, the Egyptologist and cultural theorist
Jan Assmann, over the last twenty years. Aleida Assmann’s
publications include The Legitimacy of Fiction (1980), Working
on National Memory (1993), and Spheres of Memory:
Forms and Transitions in Cultural Memory, which came
out in a third edition in 2003. In 2006 she published two
new books, an Introduction to Cultural Studies which
was structured around the media of culture, and an overview
of two decades of work in memory studies, The Long Shadow of the Past:
Cultures of Memory and the Politics of History. Professor
Assmann spoke about the connection between ghosts and memory.
She showed how, as carriers of a repressed and traumatic past,
ghosts are relevant to memory in literary texts on family trauma,
new strategies in psychotherapy, and artistic installations.
The colloquium opened with a paper by Dr Susannah Radstone,
who is a leading figure in British memory studies.
Dr Radstone lectures in Film and Cultural Studies in the School
of Social Sciences, Media and Cultural Studies at the University
of East London, and is convenor of the Cultural Memory Seminars
organised jointly by the Institute of Germanic and Romance
Studies (University of London), the Raphael Samuel History
Centre, and the University of East London. Her publications
include Memory and Methodology (2000), and two volumes
published in 2003, Regimes of Memory and Contested
Pasts. The politics of Memory. A new monograph On
Memory and Confession: The Sexual Politics of Time will
be published by Routledge in 2007. Her paper, ‘Nachträglichkeit,
History and Place’, challenged the usual focus of memory
studies on texts reflecting trauma, and argued for a more sophisticated
consideration of memory and the literary-historical imagination.
The event closed with a round table discussion on the future
of memory studies.