Session Title

Narratives of Forgetting and the Forgetting of Narratives: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Erasure, Revision, and the Loss of Memories

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Program in Medieval Studies, Rutgers Univ.

Organizer Name

Danielle Bradley

Organizer Affiliation

Rutgers Univ.

Presider Name

Kristin Canzano Pinyan

Presider Affiliation

Rutgers Univ.

Paper Title 1

Beowulf maþelode: Narration, Remembrance, and Temporality in the Old English Beowulf

Presenter 1 Name

Lauren McConnell

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Rutgers Univ.

Paper Title 2

Overcoming Family Disputes: Disappearing Narratives within the Ottonian Historiography

Presenter 2 Name

Iliana Kandzha (Gründler Travel Award Winner)

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Central European Univ.

Paper Title 3

Politics and the Cathedral: Remembering and Forgetting Narratives of Secular and Ecclesiastic Tensions in Norwich

Presenter 3 Name

Therese Novotny

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Marquette Univ.

Paper Title 4

Forgetting Forgetelnesse: The Ironies of Memory Loss in Book IV of the Confessio amantis

Presenter 4 Name

Elias Bertschi

Presenter 4 Affiliation

Independent Scholar

Start Date

14-5-2016 10:00 AM

Session Location

Bernhard Brown & Gold Room

Description

Working forward from Mary Carruthers’ foundational work on the construction of memory structures, this panel seeks to understand medieval priorities of what to remember and what to forget. Its central goal is to explore the ways in which people created, consumed, and destroyed memories in order to communicate information and ideas. It responds to recent work on the manipulation of memories of the past, which was often involved in defining nationhood and group identity.

Constance Bouchard’s recent book on “Memory and Forgetting in France,” for example, reassesses the study of political motivations for medieval historical and hagiographical writing; she examines how those in control of narrative creation maneuvered representations of events and key figures to justify conditions in the present. For Bouchard, deciding which memories to maintain, alter, or neglect is an active process.

We seek entries specific to the intentional or unintentional loss of memories as one tool for shaping narratives of the past and thus images of the present. These narratives include those captured in text but also in artwork, architecture, and music. What evidence do we have of the “forgetting of narratives,” those points at which information or memories are lost through neglect or the passing of time—or through deliberate erasure, effacement, and revision intended to exclude or occlude?

On the other hand, how can we understand “narratives of forgetting,” sources which document the need to forget or the dangers of forgetting? This might take the form of romance narratives in which a hero forgets important counsel; chronicles in which a king or other character is said to have forgotten tenets which he by rights ought to stand for; or instances of damnatio memoriae in which an erasure stands legible so that it can remind onlookers to forget. What techniques did composers use to eliminate memories, but also to memorialize loss and communicate absence? What did such loss mean to medieval people?

Danielle F. Bradley

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May 14th, 10:00 AM

Narratives of Forgetting and the Forgetting of Narratives: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Erasure, Revision, and the Loss of Memories

Bernhard Brown & Gold Room

Working forward from Mary Carruthers’ foundational work on the construction of memory structures, this panel seeks to understand medieval priorities of what to remember and what to forget. Its central goal is to explore the ways in which people created, consumed, and destroyed memories in order to communicate information and ideas. It responds to recent work on the manipulation of memories of the past, which was often involved in defining nationhood and group identity.

Constance Bouchard’s recent book on “Memory and Forgetting in France,” for example, reassesses the study of political motivations for medieval historical and hagiographical writing; she examines how those in control of narrative creation maneuvered representations of events and key figures to justify conditions in the present. For Bouchard, deciding which memories to maintain, alter, or neglect is an active process.

We seek entries specific to the intentional or unintentional loss of memories as one tool for shaping narratives of the past and thus images of the present. These narratives include those captured in text but also in artwork, architecture, and music. What evidence do we have of the “forgetting of narratives,” those points at which information or memories are lost through neglect or the passing of time—or through deliberate erasure, effacement, and revision intended to exclude or occlude?

On the other hand, how can we understand “narratives of forgetting,” sources which document the need to forget or the dangers of forgetting? This might take the form of romance narratives in which a hero forgets important counsel; chronicles in which a king or other character is said to have forgotten tenets which he by rights ought to stand for; or instances of damnatio memoriae in which an erasure stands legible so that it can remind onlookers to forget. What techniques did composers use to eliminate memories, but also to memorialize loss and communicate absence? What did such loss mean to medieval people?

Danielle F. Bradley