CfP: From MemoryLoss to MemoryShift: Rethinking the Discourse of Pathology, September 26, 2015, Toronto

Centre for Memory and Testimony Studies @ Wilfrid Laurier University “Memory(Loss)” Research Group

Since the late 1980s, Alzheimer’s disease has been regarded as “a much feared stigmatizing label that carries with it the force of a sentence of social death” (Kontos, 2006). We often hear Alzheimer’s patients talked about as ‘empty shells’; such expressions suggest that the progressive process of losing one’s memory inevitably entails losing one’s content, one’s identity. By reflecting on the recently emerging voices that rethink the relationship between pathological memory-loss, selfhood and the terminology that is being used to reflect on Alzheimer’s disease, we wish to challenge the Western assumption according to which pathological memory-loss is always already linked to the loss of Selfhood.

We welcome submissions from all academic disciplines of every period as well as unaffiliated scholarship and artworks (photography, graphic arts, creative writing, personal essays, theatre etc.) We will do our best to accommodate artworks (installations and other studio art exhibitions).

Keynote: Aynsley Moorhouse (Alzheimer Society of Toronto)
Performance: How Often Do I Dream by Katie Dorian

Submissions may address the above issues, the following themes, or other related areas:
* Seeing that words can and do change meanings over time, can we consider a paradigm shift following which we will substitute the concept of ‘memory loss’ by a less intimidating and negative ‘memory shift’ – what would such a semantical alteration achieve?
* How do we view selfhood and loss of selfhood in the face of Alzheimer’s?
* Can we view the loss of memory not as a disaster but as space for creation and recreation?
* What artistic productions (literary, visual, cinematic etc.) deal with memory loss and what are the tropes that they use to talk about Alzheimer’s and to what ends?
* How do literary metaphors as well as medical discourses make their way into our everyday speech (and vice versa) with regards to Alzheimer’s and other mysterious diseases?
* How and why did nostalgia stop being treated as a disease, and changed its pathological connotation to a sentimental one?
* What problems are revealed once we look at the discourse surrounding Alzheimer’s?
* How does the language we employ affect our understanding of the relationship between memory and identity?
* How do words and expressions that we find in literary texts sift through the literary and reappear in everyday conversations with Alzheimer’s individuals and their caregivers?
* How does symbolic and corporeal language come to define dire realities for patients with mysterious diseases such as Alzheimer?
* How can we employ art in our everyday life to change the “much feared stigmatizing label that carries with it the force of a sentence of social death” (Kontos, 2006)?

We encourage thinkers of all disciplines and levels of study, health care practitioners, caregivers, artists and others interested in challenging the accepted discourse of pathological memory loss as well as the link between memory and identity to submit an abstract for a 20-minute presentation of approximately 250 words in Word document to: liza.futerman@mail.utoronto.ca and memoryshiftconference@gmail.com by May 20th, 2015. Included in the Word document should also be the presenter’s bio of approximately 50 words.