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Memory Studies (IL908)


Why has research across several disciplines turned to focus on memory? What might this mean for the future? The aims of this module are to explore memory studies from a variety of angles with a focus on cross-disciplinary perspectives. We encourage student engagement in seminars to allow you to develop the insights of memory studies in your own work as well as to learn from your peers in other subjects.


The module will consist of weekly 2-hour interactive seminars, generally lead by a guest module speaker and Alsion Ribeiro de Menezes as convenor.

Outline Syllabus

Phase 1 – ‘Memory and Me’

Week 1: Introduction and module objectives (Prof. Alison Ribeiro de Menezes, School of Modern Languages and Cultures)
Why Memory Studies? Why now? Seminar focusing on memory and identity; famous sites of memory and students’ own contributions; guidance on choice of task written in the light of module teaching and assessment principles.

Week 1 Reading (please prepare before the first class):

• Radstone, Susannah. “What Place is This? Transcultural Memory and the Locations of Memory Studies.” Parallax 17, no. 4 (2011): 109-23.

• Marianne Hirsch: ‘The Generation of Postmemory’, Poetics Today 29/1 (2008), 103-128

Week 2: Memory and Psychology (with Dr Elliott Ludvig, Psychology)

This session will consider the psychology and biology of memory. We will reflect on the fallibility and foibles of human memory, learn about the how the brain creates and recreates our recollections, plus consider the implications of multi-generational translation of memories as can occur through epigenetic mechanisms. The seminar will include a brief memory experiment to enhance student understanding of the issues addressed.

Week 3: Digital Memory and Mediating Life Story (with Dr Jo Garde-Hansen, Cultural & Media Policy Studies)
What is connective memory and how have digital networks, repositories, archives and recording devices facilitated an upsurge in remembering? This seminar will focus on the use of digital technologies for remembering, issues of privacy, security and personal identity, as well as concerns over the right to forget in a digital age. This seminar provides a bridge to Phase 2.

Week 3 Reading:

Jo Garde-Hansen, Anna Reading and Andrew Hoskins (eds), 'Introduction', in Save As….Digital Memories (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)

You may also wish to consult:
Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age (Princeton: Princeton UP, 2011)

Phase 2 – ‘Memory, Heritage and Responsibility’

Week 4: Performing Food and Memory (with Carmen Wong, Theatre and Performance Studies)

Bridging from individual to collective questions of memory, we ask: How does food elide with memory? What does it mean to embody or perform a food memory? Why might this be a productive entanglement?

Week 4 Reading:

Long, Lucy. "Learning to Listen to the Food Voice." Food, Culture & Society 7:1 (2004): 118-122.
Holtzman, Jon D. "Food and Memory." Annual Review of Anthropology 35 (2006): 361-378.

Suggested further reading:

Proust, Marcel. "The Madeleine." The Taste Culture Reader, Berg: Oxford (2007): 293-296.

Tasks before class:
1. Please email Alison ( and Carmen ( if you have serious food allergies, in preparation for this class.
2. Find a family member or friend who might be available to be interviewed (following the first 2 pages of Long's 'Learning to Listen to the Food Voice' article). It shouldn't take too long but give your interviewee time to think through this food memory.
3. If feasible/convenient, please bring this food or dish, or an object that is more relevant from your interview, to share with the class. We will discuss and perhaps also have a chance to try to re-embody this memory as a collective.

[Note: You are also welcome to be an audience to my performances set for Jan 11-13 (time/venue TBA) on performing food, memory, and belongings. Send a note to if you are interested to be included in updates.]

Week 5: Memory History and Archive (Alison Ribeiro de Menezes, School of Modern Languages and Cultures)

The seminar this week will focus on the intersections between the discipline of history and the rise of memory studies. Following a disucssion of the implications for historical research, we will engage with oral history to explore the overlaps between individual memory and wider historical and political events such as repression, persecution, exile and activism.

Week 5 reading:

Kirwin Lee Klein, 'On the Emergence of Memory in Historical Discourse', Representations, 69/1 (2000)127-150.

Week 6: Memory and Creative Non-Fiction (with visiting speaker Dr Emilie Pine, UCD and Irish Memory Studies Network and author of Notes to Self)

This seminar will examine non-fictional but creative strategies for examining painful memory. Specifically, we'll look at how memories of sexual violence are represented by verbatim theatre, and how as an academic Emilie has analysed that, before then also talking about how in Notes to Self, her non-fiction essays, she has represented her own experiences. The seminar looks at mediation, narrative, and performance. We'll talk more resilience than trauma.

Phase 3 – ‘Memory Goes Global’

Week 7: Screening of Nostalgia for the Light (Patricio Guzmán, Chile)

This film is preparation for week 8's class.

Week 8: Responsibility in Transition (with Prof. A. Norrie, Law)

This week we will examine Transitional Justice mechanisms in the context of research on the intersections between law and the emotions that arise, especially around questions of guilt and their emotional and ethical legacies.


Primo Levi, The Drowned and the Saved (Abacus 2013) chs 1-3
Alan Norrie, Justice and the Slaughter Bench (Routledge 2017) ch 10

Week 9: Global Memory and The Museum of the Person (with Dr Jo Garde-Hansen, Cultural & Media Policy Studies)

Should all collective and cultural memory be in institutions and for the benefit of nations? This seminar considers the new museum platforms that are connecting transnationally and personally to place new value on the individual. Using the case study of the Brazilian Museu da Pessoa, students will explore and practice social memory technology as a Latin American strategy for building, sharing and socializing memories.


Karen Worcman and Jo Garde-Hansen, 'Introduction', in Social Memory Technology: Theory Practice, Action (Routledge, 2016)

Week 10: Consultation and reflection on assessment pieces (with Alison and relevant seminar leaders where feasible)

Term 3, week 1: end-of-module symposium with student presentations and reflections on learning. Students will participate in a short symposium at which they reflect on the disiplinary and interdisciplinary insights gained through the module’s approach to study, as well as their own written response (choices of form, subject, shaping, and content).

Module convenor

Prof. Alison Ribeiro de Menezes
(Alison dot Menezes at warwick dot ac dot uk)


Term 2 (Spring) 2018-2019
Wednesdays 11.00-13.00


Humanities Studio


For 10 CATS:
1500 word essay/report/review of event, field trip or literature (75%)
15 minute Presentation (25%)

For 20 CATS:
3000 word essay/report/review of event, field trip or literature (75%)
15 minute Presentation (25%)

For 30 CATS:
4000 word essay/report/review of event, field trip or literature (75%)
15 minute Presentation (25%)