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The Future of Memory

The Future of Memory

Richard Crownshaw
Jane Kilby
Antony Rowland
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 334
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qd7gv
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  • Book Info
    The Future of Memory
    Book Description:

    Memory studies has become a rapidly growing area of scholarly as well as public interest. This volume brings together world experts to explore the current critical trends in this new academic field. It embraces work on diverse but interconnected phenomena, such as twenty-first century museums, shocking memorials in present-day Rwanda and the firsthand testimony of the victims of genocidal conflicts. The collection engages with pressing 'real world' issues, such as the furor around the recent 9/11 memorial, and what we really mean when we talk about 'trauma'.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-847-8
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiii)
    Rick Crownshaw, Jane Kilby and Antony Rowland
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xiv-xvi)
  6. I. The Future of Memory

    • The Future of Memory: Introduction
      (pp. 3-16)
      Rick Crownshaw

      In response to the avalanche of memory discourses that have become the stuff of Western public spheres and informed academic enquiry in the late twentieth- and early twenty-first centuries, Andreas Huyssen rejects the idea that this ‘hypertrophy’ of memory can only be met by a Nietzschean forgetting.¹ What, after all, are the differences between active forgetting and selective remembrance? Instead, Huyssen argues that the remembrance of the past must be accompanied by the remembrance of the future.² Not only has modern utopian thought been replaced by an obsession with the past, he argues, but the future has been reconfigured along...

    • 1 Beyond the Mnemosyne Institute: The Future of Memory after the Age of Commemoration
      (pp. 17-36)
      Dan Stone

      The ‘Mnemosyne Institute’ of my title refers to a story by Saul Bellow, ‘The Bellarosa Connection’.² The narrator, whose name we do not find out, is the founder of the Mnemosyne Institute in Philadelphia, and after forty years of successfully training ‘executives, politicians, and members of the defence establishment’ in what would be known to the Greeks asmnemotechniaor the Romans asars memoriae, he retires, wishing to ‘forgetabout remembering’. This aspiration, as he immediately acknowledges, is ‘an Alice-in-Wonderland proposition’ (35): as Paul Ricoeur notes, in order to succeed, forgetting would have to outsmart its own vigilance and,...

    • 2 Rwanda’s Bones
      (pp. 37-50)
      Sara Guyer

      In Alain Resnais’s documentary,Night and Fog, the failure to see what occurred at Auschwitz, the failure to see despite the new technologies of seeing – Kodacolor and close-up – is coupled with an archive of black-and-white images that leave us to see more than we can bear. In the film, commissioned to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, no living person enters into the colour screen. There is only a disembodied voice that over and again states the impossibility of seeing today that in Auschwitz, among the apparently innocent crumbling buildings and grassy fields, there were...

    • 3 The Imperial War Museum North: A Twenty-First Century Museum?
      (pp. 51-76)
      Gaynor Bagnall and Antony Rowland

      Museums are the cathedrals of the postmodern age. Architectural innovations such as the Guggenheim museum and the Imperial War Museum North (IWMN) have established a spectacular presence in Bilbao and Manchester akin to the cathedrals of Rheims and York in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. These two museums are symptoms of a renaissance in museum building that appears set to continue long into the twenty-first century; however, critics have been divided about the import of such constructions. Whereas some writers have lauded the architectural vision and ambition of Daniel Libeskind’s building in Trafford Park, others have criticised the IWMN’s perceived...

    • 4 Memory and the Monument after 9/11
      (pp. 77-92)
      James E. Young

      Allow me to open with a polemical question: what have monuments and memory to do with each other? ‘Every period has the impulse to create symbols in the form of monuments’, Sigmund Giedion has written, ‘which according to the Latin meaning are “things that remind”, things to be transmitted to later generations. This demand for monumentality cannot, in the long run, be suppressed. It will find an outlet at all costs’.¹ This is still true, I believe, which leads me to ask just what these outlets and their costs are today. Indeed, the forms these demands for the monumental now...

    • 5 The Edge of Memory: Literary Innovation and Childhood Trauma
      (pp. 93-110)
      Susan Rubin Suleiman

      Under ‘crisis’, Roget’s thesaurus lists the following nouns among others: critical time, key moment, turning point, pressure, predicament. In speaking of crises of memory, I have all those meanings in mind. Interestingly, crisis and criticism have the same Greek root:kritein, to discriminate, to choose. A ‘crisis of memory’ is a moment of choice, of discrimination and sometimes of predicament or conflict as concerns the remembrance of the past, whether by individuals or by groups. At issue in a crisis of memory is the question of self–representation: how we view ourselves, and how we represent ourselves to others, is...

  7. II. The Future of Testimony

    • The Future of Testimony: Introduction
      (pp. 113-122)
      Antony Rowland

      Having suggested possible future directions for the study of memory and transmission in general, we now turn to the specifics of testimony. Elie Wiesel provided a contentious locus for the future study of testimony with his notorious overstatement that the Holocaust established the form as a new literary genre.¹ Many critics have subsequently questioned his assertion: Sue Vice points out that he ignores testimonies from previous conflicts such as World War One; Young argues that he overlooks a ‘long tradition of literary testimony’ in scripture.² Wiesel’s assertion is accurate insofar as it recognises the critical attention that has accrued to...

    • 6 Reading Perpetrator Testimony
      (pp. 123-134)
      Robert Eaglestone

      Gitta Sereny writes that, during her time as NURRA welfare office in Displaced Persons camps in Germany, she

      felt more and more that we needed to find someone capable of explaining to us how presumably normal human beings had been brought to do what had been done. It was essential … to penetrate the personality of at least one of the people who had been intimately associated with this total evil.¹

      The works that I will call ‘perpetrator testimony’ – often very popular, widely read and successful in the public sphere – seem to promise to meet this need, to...

    • 7 Reading beyond the False Memory Syndrome Debates
      (pp. 135-154)
      Jane Kilby

      In her bookRocking the Cradle of Sexual Politics, Louise Armstrong is clearly vexed by the possibility that women are being ‘encouraged’ by often well-meaning therapists to remember events that have no stake in reality, an anxiety she most clearly expresses in reference to the phenomenally successful self-help bookThe Courage to Heal, co-authored by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis. Indeed, in keeping with the critical storm caused by this multimillion selling book, Armstrong also maintains that:

      No matter how much one implicitly trusts that suppressed memories do emerge in adulthood, the charge used by those challenging the reality of...

    • 8 False Testimony
      (pp. 155-164)
      Sue Vice

      False Holocaust testimony has become of pressing generic concern especially since 1996 and the unmasking of Binjamin Wilkomirski’s infamous fictional testimonyFragments.¹ I consider here some examples of false or embellished Holocaust testimony, and argue that neither a literary nor a historical approach of a conventional kind is sufficient to determine the genre of such testimonies. As Robert Eaglestone has persuasively argued in relation toFragments, there ‘is no textual property that will identify a stretch of discourse as a work of fiction’,² while the accuracy or otherwise of the historical events represented in testimony is equally insufficient as a...

    • 9 Reading Holocaust Poetry: Genre, Authority and Identification
      (pp. 165-178)
      Matthew Boswell

      Elie Wiesel famously wrote that his generation ‘invented a new literature, that of testimony’, and, irrespective of when or by whom this ‘new literature’ was first written, there is something distinct about the way that we read testimony, and Holocaust testimony in particular – about the way we find ourselves asking not simply what we think but what should we think, or, even more strongly, what are werequiredto think.¹ Above all, our postmodern sense of reading being an ungoverned and essentially pleasurable activity is completely transformed by the knowledge that these narratives are records of, and part of...

  8. III. The Future of Trauma

    • The Future of Trauma: Introduction
      (pp. 181-190)
      Jane Kilby

      If the future of trauma is as half as contentious as its past and present then there are fraught times ahead, whether we are talking about its future as – or in terms of – a clinical category, concept, diagnosis, ethics, politics, theory, reality, or ‘a knot’ as Roger Luckhurst argues in his chapter for this volume. If its past is ‘inherently contradictory and densely over-determined’ as Luckhurst also maintains, then so will be its future; and again following Luckhurst if trauma is ‘be regarded as one of those specific kinds of very modern concepts that attempts to name an...

    • 10 The Trauma Knot
      (pp. 191-206)
      Roger Luckhurst

      By now, to utter the word ‘trauma’ is to invite controversy; it is a name for always contested ground. One might reasonably argue that since the introduction of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to the official diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association in 1980, the categories of sufferers have been progressively extended, and it has escaped psychiatric confines to become one of the defining categories of contemporary experience. As Mark Seltzer put it, ‘the modern subject has become inseparable from the categories of shock and trauma, modernity has come to be understood under the sign of the wound.’¹ More recently,...

    • 11 Trauma, Justice, and the Political Unconscious: Arendt and Felman’s Journey to Jerusalem
      (pp. 207-232)
      Cathy Caruth

      The seminal work on trauma and testimony by the psychoanalytic and literary critic Shoshana Felman centers on two fundamental insights: the historical shape of traumatic experience and the urgency and difficulty of bearing witness in an ‘age of testimony’. In her book (co–authored with Dori Laub) entitledTestimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis and History(1992), Felman argues that there exists a profound relation between the urgent need for testimony after the Holocaust and the ‘crisis of witnessing’ at the heart of this testimonial demand.¹ What would it mean, Felman asks, to rethink the event of the Holocaust...

    • 12 Trauma and Resistance in Art Spiegelman’s In the Shadow of No Towers
      (pp. 233-244)
      Anne Whitehead

      The events of September 11, 2001, have readily been accommodated to the discourse of trauma.¹ As the towers of the World Trade Centre collapsed, people stood watching on the streets of New York City, unable to believe that the events were indeed happening. Media networks broadcast the attack worldwide even as it unfolded on screen. Subsequently, footage of the falling towers was continuously replayed, indicating a need to repeatedly relive the event. As Jenny Edkins points out, the events of 9/11 had ‘exposed the contingency of everyday life and the fragility of the taken-for-granted safety of the city’.² People returned...

    • 13 Facing Losses/Losing Guarantees: A Meditation on Openings to Traumatic Ignorance as a Constitutive Demand
      (pp. 245-264)
      Sharon Rosenberg

      I first read Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub’sTestimony: Crises in Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis and History(1992) in the context of a graduate seminar. I was in the early years of a doctoral programme, taking a newly offered course on history and memory focused on the Nazi genocides. I used to remark, with a slight shrug and a forced lightness to my tone, that it took me a year to ‘recover’ from readingTestimony, and its companion texts by Friedlander, Young, LaCapra, among others, took me a year to figure out how to begin to put myself back together...

    • 14 Activist Memories: The Politics of Trauma and the Pleasures of Politics
      (pp. 265-278)
      Carrie Hamilton

      Since the 1990s it has become a truism to say that academics in the Humanities, especially in the United States, Britain and other predominantly English-speaking countries, are obsessed with memory. Within this wider memory boom there has been a particular focus on trauma. The ‘oxymoronic’ popularity of trauma¹ has led one scholar to label it a ‘fetish’² and another to write of ‘traumaculture’.³ While some stress the political utility of trauma in theorizing historical forms of oppression,⁴ more sceptical thinkers link the fascination with trauma to the rise of ‘victim culture’⁵ and even ‘trauma envy’.⁶ Notwithstanding their differences, what these...

  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 279-298)
  10. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 299-302)
  11. Index
    (pp. 303-320)