The Arts of Memory—Original Call for Papers

The Fifth Annual NSSR Interdisciplinary Memory Conference

Thursday and Friday, April 26-27, 2012

The New School for Social Research

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 will focus on the contemporary arts of memory.

Conference participants will discuss the arts and artifices of memory practices, both as embedded in physical forms such as museums and memorials and as enacted memory practices such as truth and reconciliation processes. Interdisciplinary in scope, the conference will consider new ways to conceptualize the arts of memory through the visual, tactile, textual, and synesthetic expressions of the past. Sessions will also be dedicated to a reflexive examination of the arts of memory scholarship: the scholarly investigation of the arts of memory investigated as an art in itself.

Empirical, theoretical, and methodological papers from any and all academic disciplines—as well as memory arts practitioners—are being called for.

Questions the conference will address include

  • How are different memory practices oriented around different senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell?
  • How are events associated with one set of senses or practices remembered through another set of senses or practices?
  • How are spaces and material objects—sites, documents, photographs, and bodies—transformed through memory practices?
  • How are different methods of memory disrupted, altered, or remapped over time?
  • What is the relationship between destruction and creation in memory practices?
  • What happens when events that seem insignificant as they unfold in the present become imbued with new significance when remembered?
  • What methods do scholars use to conduct research on memory practice?
  • How do scholars study memory on an individual and a sociohistorical scale?
  • What theoretical perspectives can shed light on methodologies of memory?

Themes the conference will address include

  • Methods of social remembering
  • Memory and the body
  • Memory and the senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, smell
  • Memory and space/place
  • Virtual museums, digital archives, and online memory projects
  • Mapping memory
  • Evidentiary practices
  • Memory and visual culture/cultural production
  • Loss and aging of memories on a social scale
  • Memory and transformation, confusion, destruction, fragmentation
  • Synesthetic memory
  • Theoretical approaches to the analysis of methods of memory
  • Research methods in memory studies

To submit a paper, email by January 8, 2012, putting "2012 ABSTRACT" in the subject line. Please include an abstract not longer than 250 words with a tentative paper title and a short personal résumé (200 words maximum) including your institutional affiliation. Decisions will be made by late January 2012. For more information on about the 2012 conference, past conferences, and other related activities, visit

Note: This 2012 conference is scheduled to coincide with a celebration honoring the career of Vera Zolberg, professor of sociology, on Saturday, April 28, 2012. The two events, although scheduled separately, complement each other. All conference participants are encouraged to attend both. 

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