Memory Studies

The Arts of Memory

Fifth Interdisciplinary Memory Conference
The New School for Social Research
Thursday and Friday, April 26 and 27, 2012

Frances Yates' influential text The Art of Memory (1966) traced the use of mnemonic techniques from the classical age to the Enlightenment. Playing on Yates' title, the fifth annual NSSR Interdisciplinary Memory Conference focuses on the contemporary arts of memory. A panoramic postcard, the sound of a human voice, the spatial arc of an apartment building, or the smooth touch of leather—we examine the intersection of sensation, experience, and meaning in material forms such as these. We also look at the role of action, movement, and practice in memory: the relocation of photographs, the exhumation of human remains, the bodily shifts of a walking tour. Further, we attend to representation, transmission, and circulation of memory, from scientific models to historical accounts narrated in spaces both virtual and embodied. As memory scholars, we also take this opportunity to engage in a reflexive consideration of our own arts of memory scholarship—examining our theoretical approaches, investigatory methods, and research practices on memory as "arts" in and of themselves. Through diverse approaches and disciplinary perspectives, this conference reaches for new ways to conceptualize the arts of memory through the visual, tactile, textual, and synesthetic expressions of the past. 

The full conference program is available online.


Thursday, April 26, 6:30 p.m.

(Orozco Room, 66 West 12th Street, 7th floor)

"An Archive of Threat"
Peter C. Van Wyck

Associate Professor in Communication Studies
Graduate Media Studies Program Director
Concordia University

Author of The Highway of the Atom and Signs of Danger: Waste, Trauma, and Nuclear Threat

Keynote followed by a reception.

Friday, April 27, 6:30 p.m.

(Wolff Conference Room D1103, 6 East 16th Street)

"Memory Palaces—The Renaissance and the Contemporary World"
Lina Bolzoni

Global Distinguished Professor of Italian Studies
New York University

Author of The Gallery of Memory: Literary and Iconographic Models in the Age of the Printing Press (La stanza della memoria: Modelli letterari e iconografici nell'età della stampa) and The Web of Images: Vernacular Preaching from Its Origins to Saint Bernardino Da Siena (La rete delle immagini: predicazione in volgare dalle origini a Bernardino da Siena)

Keynote followed by a reception.

The conference organizing committee can be contacted at

Note: This year's conference is scheduled to coincide with a celebration honoring sociology professor Vera Zolberg on Saturday, April 28. While the two events have their own agendas, they complement each other, and participants are encouraged to attend both. 

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