Related Links

For press enquiries:
Claire Hornshaw
Tel 01225 386319

For details about the conference:
Dr Axel Goodbody
Tel 01225 386659

» submit an item · an event

Press Release - 22 February 2007

Free public lecture: Ghosts of the past in literature & photography

Local people are invited to a free public lecture by Professor Aleida Assmann, a leading scholar in the field of memory studies. The lecture will take place at the University of Bath at 1.15pm on Tuesday 27 February.

Professor Assmann is a world-leading expert on ‘cultural memory’, the idea that literature and the arts reflect different interpretations of a nation's collective experience, taking over when the generation of direct witnesses of traumatic events has passed away, and often conflicting with politically managed commemorations and official historical accounts of them.

In her lecture, Ghosts of the past in literature & photography, she will be speaking about the connection between ghosts and memory in literature and photography, focussing on the phenomenon of haunting after the Second World War.

Professor Assmann said: “There is an obvious connection between violence, trauma and haunting, illustrated by the increased level of interest in spirits and ghosts after wars and battles.

“Wherever there is a sudden and alarming rise in the population of the dead, the living, who are bereft and traumatised by the loss of their friends and loved ones, try to establish some form of contact with the dead.

“In literature, ghosts are often presented as carriers of a repressed, traumatic past that confronts the present, refusing to simply vanish or disappear.”

Professor Assmann, originally from Germany, studied English Literature and Egyptology at the universities of Heidelberg and Tubingen, and has been Professor of English & Literary Theory at the University of Konstanz since 1993. Her main fields of research are the history of reading, historical anthropology of the media, and cultural memory.

Her publications include Realms of memory, now a standard work on the subject, an Introduction to Cultural Studies which was structured around the media of culture, and a recent overview of two decades of work in memory studies, The long shadow of the past: cultures of memory and the Politics of history.

The lecture is part of a one-day conference, Remembering & forgetting, organised by the newly established University of Bath research group ‘Memory, history & identity’, which is part of the Department of European Studies & Modern Languages.

Dr Axel Goodbody, who is organising the event, said: “Due to globalisation, postmodernism and the rise of the new media, society nowadays decides what it remembers in a more democratic way than before, with minority groups and individuals in the community being the driving force behind these decisions.

“Memory studies has emerged as one of the most exciting and productive approaches in the study of European culture. We are delighted to have two internationally known experts, Professor Assmann and Dr Susannah Radstone of the University of East London, present at our conference.”

Other topics at the conference include: trauma and memory in German autobiographical writing, the French exodus of 1940 and the films of Agnes Varda, and drinking alcohol as a practice of remembering and forgetting in France and the UK.

The lecture, which is free of charge, begins at 1.15 pm, in 3 East 2.2 on the University of Bath Claverton campus. For details of the full programme please contact Dr Axel Goodbody, tel 01225 386659 or email

The University of Bath is one of the UK's leading universities, with an international reputation for quality research and teaching. View a full list of the University's press releases: