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2016 NeMLA panel: Forgetting to Remember: Pathologizing Cultural Amnesia

With the rapidly aging population in North America and around the world, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) rates are skyrocketing to the point of becoming a global epidemic. Yet, this epidemic has not always been around (or so we are told). And so, we are bound to question the genesis of this pathology of forgetting: What if the mind’s forgetfulness is a symptom of a larger phenomenon – a reaction of the collective psyche to history fraught with violence and trauma, a history that we no longer wish to remember?

The aim of this panel is to explore the possibilities that the trope of pathological memory loss presents across media. Namely, we wish to theorize the prospect of the demented collective psyche that attempts to awake from the “nightmare of history” (Joyce, Ulysses).

Submissions may address the above issues, the following themes, or other related areas:

  • How does memory loss and forgetting shape narratives of the future?

  • What are some of the dangers that cultural amnesia carries with it?

  • How do artistic productions (literary, visual, cinematic, etc.) deal with memory loss and what are the tropes that they use to talk about forgetfulness?

  • How do we view personal and cultural identity in the face of memory loss?

  • Does cultural amnesia entail a termination of a culture? Or a cultural renewal and prosperity?

  • What is the difference between memory loss and forgetfulness?

  • Can we talk about memory loss as driven by agency and if so, to what ends?

Please submit abstracts for a 20-minute presentation (300 words maximum) by September 30th, 2015. Included should also be the presenter’s bio of approximately 50 words.

For abstract submission, visit the NeMLA website.

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