__Conference venue:__ All conference events are taking place in and around: __Centro Joaquín Roncal__,
San Braulio Street, 5-­7, Zaragoza, Spain\\
__Dates:__ 6-8 May 2015
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This conference is part of a Research Project, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and
Competitiveness (FFI2012-­‐32719), the Government of Aragón and the European Social Fund (H05). The organisers would like to express our sincere thanks to the Academia Europaea (AE), for its endorsement of the conference and the support of the “Academia Europaea 2015 Hubert Curien Fund”. Thanks also to the Barcelona Knowledge Hub of the AE,
and to Prof. Cinzia Ferrini(University of Trieste, Italy), who collaborated with us on behalf of the Philosophy, Theology & Religious Studies Section of the AE. We would also like to gratefully acknowledge the support of the Department of English and German Philology and of the Vice-­Rectorate for Science Policy and Research of the University of Zaragoza. Many thanks to the keynote lecturers and all other participants, chairpersons and research
fellows for their valuable contributions and their earnest cooperation.
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The 1990s brought with them a “memory boom” that has made of memory a central concern in
contemporary culture and politics at a global scale. Important contributing factors have been, among
others, the debates surrounding False Memory Syndrome; developments in the academic fields of
Holocaust Studies and Postcolonial Studies; the spread of public historical consciousness; and the evolving
dynamics of reparation politics and justice. As Jay Winter points out, the many and various sources of the
contemporary obsession with memory “arise out of a multiplicity of social, cultural, medical, and
economic trends and developments of an eclectic but intersecting nature” (2007). The effect of these
intersections, as Winter explains, has been multiplicative. However, they have also made for friction
areas, sites of clash, controversy, contradiction and questioning, like those discussed in what follows.
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Pierre Nora provocatively stated in ''Les lieux de mémoire'' (1984) that “Whoever says memory, says
Shoah”. There is no denying the centrality of the Holocaust in the context of Memory Studies, a centrality
that has been criticised, in turn, by scholars like Harold Schulweis and Jacob Neusner, to name but two.
Setting themselves against those who have claimed it to be a “unique” event in world history, some
writers and critics have used the Shoah to deal with other collective memories of mass violence and
oppression, while still others find this a most contentious move. In a context marked by a Levinasian
ethics of openness to the Other, one further area of conflict —recently addressed by critics like Erin
McGlothlin, Jenni Adams and Sue Vice— has been the advisability and possibility of the artistic (and
literary) representation of the perpetrator figure. Moreover, if one broadens the focus from the Holocaust
to the field of Trauma Studies and its contribution to the “memory boom”, it becomes apparent that the
representation of trauma in literature and the way in which it has been theorised have also become a site
of controversy. Thus, critics like Roger Luckhurst (2008) and Alan Gibbs (2014) argue against the way in
which contemporary literature has reified elements of dominant trauma theory into an often prescriptive
aesthetic that privileges difficulty and aporia. In which different ways do some texts and writers resist this
trauma aesthetic? Do certain approaches to the issue of traumatic memories run the risk of
traumatophilia? How do areas of research like Resilience Theory and the Theory of Affects offer
alternative strategies to deal with personal and collective grief/conflict and their literary representation?
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Memories of suffering and loss can provide a link between cultures, especially at a time marked by
multiculturalism and the aftermath of decolonisation processes. But can the theoretical frames most of us
are familiar with break free of the Eurocentric origins of their foundational texts? Even if empathy is
needed to build bridges between selves and cultures, how are we to avoid falling, and how often do
scholars fall, into what Bertolt Brecht termed “crude empathy” (1964), that is, a feeling for another based
on the assimilation of the other’s experience to the self? How does the rising concern with memory
interact with the politics of difference —focused on the recognition and empowerment of minorities— and
with the politics of reconciliation —focused on reparation, truth-telling and healing? How are these
parallel political and intellectual movements reflected in literature? Which conflict areas in the said
movements call for an in-depth analysis that can be carried out, among other means, by resorting to (the
study of) literary representation? Does the growing interest in restorative justice, healing and
reconciliation suggest, as Anne Whitehead points out, that “a discursive shift is beginning to take place
from memory to forgetting” (2009)?
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We are interested in moving forward critical research in these and related subjects. Contributions are
invited that focus on friction areas related to memory and its literary representation, and that bring fresh
perspectives which can be added to/set against previous developments in the field. Proposals should deal
with __contemporary narratives in English from 1990 to the present__. Suggested topics for discussion include,
but are not limited to:
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*Memory f(r)ictions: false memories, designs of the present on the past, questioning the criteria for establishing evidence of past acts and the relationship of memory to experience.
*Alternative strategies to represent and negotiate suffering: leaving behind the Western trauma paradigm
*Contesting the disabling effects of a culture of victimisation. The potential of affects, adaptation and resilience.
*The (im)possibility of forgiveness and forgetting
*Connecting memories: the productivity of cross-cultural and multidirectional links vs. the dangers of appropriation and misrepresentation.
*Spatial and temporal vectors of memory: memory landscapes, sites of memory, commemoration, the saturation of the present with the past, future-oriented memory.
*Memory and identity politics: constructing victims and perpetrators
*The politics of remembering and forgetting; the politisation of suffering; political and institutional misappropriations of traumatic events and victims; the need and pitfalls of reparation politics and reconciliation discourse.
*Teaching conflictive memories: educational challenges and approaches
__Conference organisers:__ María Jesús Martínez-Alfaro and Silvia Pellicer-Ortín\\
Dpto. de Filología Inglesa y Alemana\\
Facultad de Filosofía y Letras. Campus San Francisco.\\
50009 Zaragoza (Spain)
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UNIVERSITY OF ZARAGOZA (SPAIN). Contemporary Narrative in English Research Group\\
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In collaboration with: Prof. [Cinzia Ferrini|User/Ferrini_Cinzia] (Dpt. of Humanities, University of Trieste, Italy), on
behalf of the Philosophy, Theology & Religious Studies Section of the
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*[Call for papers|CFP-Zaragoza conference + AE (2).pdf]
*[Final programme|PROGRAMA-DEFINITIVO.pdf]
*[Book of abstracts|Book of abstracts.pdf]
The conference is endorsed by ACADEMIA EUROPAEA and in particular by the Literary and Theatrical Studies section.
Dr. Silvia Pellicer-Ortín, one of the organizors of the conference, is a 2014 Burgen Scholar.
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[{Image src='university_zaragoza.jpg' caption='' height='150' alt='University Zaragoza'}]
[{Image src='AE_logo.jpg' caption='' height='150' alt='Academia Europea'}]