Memoryscapes (digital, locational, imagined) USB 2.022
Jul 04, 2023 15:45 - 17:15(Europe/London)
20230704T1545 20230704T1715 Europe/London 2.3. Memory and Environment

In this panel we seek to explore the entangled nature of memory, environment and literature. Our contributions present case studies of memory in context; environments of memory and the mechanisms of environmental memory. Our examples show that the relationship between literature and memory is marked by complex agential and temporal entanglements, and diverse forms of memory actors and agents. We understand 'environment' in a broad sense, reaching well beyond the ecocritical, and aspire to trace the shifts and forms of how environment, agency and memory are deployed in literature.

Erol Gülüm

Ethnoecological Identity and Cultural Memory: The Case of the 'German Forest' Motif in Grimms' Fairy TalesEthnoecological identity consists of a distinctive set of shared perceptions, beliefs, knowledge, attitudes, and re/presentations of an ethnicity generated through direct contacts with or responses to the local environment they live in, and it is produced, recorded, and transmitted through various cultural practices, traditions, heritage, artifacts, objects, and spaces. As a juncture of these elements, folkloric expressions have been one of the most effective mediums in communicating and manifesting symbols and meanings shaping eco-identities. Especially, the core folk/oral narrative genres such as myths, epics, legends, and fairy tales have functioned since time immemorial as agents for not just encoding and storing, but also for retrieving, that is to say, remembering ecological identities culturally. When this form of cultural remembering is framed as folkloric memory, the mutualistic relations between ethnoecological identity and cultural memory can be clarified, analyzed, and explained more concretely. In this regard, the Grimms' Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Ch ...

USB 2.022 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
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In this panel we seek to explore the entangled nature of memory, environment and literature. Our contributions present case studies of memory in context; environments of memory and the mechanisms of environmental memory. Our examples show that the relationship between literature and memory is marked by complex agential and temporal entanglements, and diverse forms of memory actors and agents. We understand 'environment' in a broad sense, reaching well beyond the ecocritical, and aspire to trace the shifts and forms of how environment, agency and memory are deployed in literature.



Erol Gülüm

Ethnoecological Identity and Cultural Memory: The Case of the 'German Forest' Motif in Grimms' Fairy Tales

Ethnoecological identity consists of a distinctive set of shared perceptions, beliefs, knowledge, attitudes, and re/presentations of an ethnicity generated through direct contacts with or responses to the local environment they live in, and it is produced, recorded, and transmitted through various cultural practices, traditions, heritage, artifacts, objects, and spaces. As a juncture of these elements, folkloric expressions have been one of the most effective mediums in communicating and manifesting symbols and meanings shaping eco-identities. Especially, the core folk/oral narrative genres such as myths, epics, legends, and fairy tales have functioned since time immemorial as agents for not just encoding and storing, but also for retrieving, that is to say, remembering ecological identities culturally. When this form of cultural remembering is framed as folkloric memory, the mutualistic relations between ethnoecological identity and cultural memory can be clarified, analyzed, and explained more concretely. In this regard, the Grimms' Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales), which is considered a unique literary representation of German oral tradition and folk culture, provide a rich corpus for dealing with the relationalities between ethnoecological identity and memory. In their tales, the Brothers Grimm used the forest motifs, which they extracted and conjured up from the archaic resources of the German language, myths, and customs, not just as a narrative element, but also as a distinctive cultural symbol of German nationalism, and identity. More precisely, as Jack Zipes who is one of the authorities of fairytale scholarship wrote, the Grimms considered their tales as 'the signs and traces of the past and present that enabled them to glean essential truths about German people'. Accordingly, in the present paper, I aim to evaluate why and how the Grimms' tales perform and represent the various dimensions of an ethnoecological identity that is organically related to cultural memory and shaped by 19th-century social and political contexts.


Paul Leworthy

The Materials Of Memory

When Steen Eiler Rasmussen began to explore how we experience architectural spaces and why we experience them in that way, he identified shapes and scales as crucial to the way architecture "feels" but he also emphasised the importance of materials. In a famous example, Rasmussen contrasts a statue hewn in marble to a plaster cast of the same statue. We perceive beauty in the former, Rasmussen contends, in part from the way the marble glistens as it reflects light. Marble is not only delicate and interesting, however. It is also visibly heavy and durable. Plaster, on the contrary, is manifestly dull, boring, and fragile. That beautiful and durable are desirable has, combined with its relative scarcity, made marble valuable. Yet, Rasmussen not only suggests that marble's worth derives from the way we intuitively and experientially perceive it but also, inversely, that we intuitively and experientially perceive its worth. 'We sense a material', wrote German philosopher Gernot Böhme more recently, 'insofar as the atmosphere it radiates enters into our disposition. We sense the presence of materials today by finding ourselves to be in a particular way, in response to their being present.' As well as paying attention to the 'social character' of various materials, Böhme highlights their 'synaesthetic character' – that is, an attribute applicable beyond a single sensory field. How often, for example, do we describe materials as cold or warm to indicate something other than its temperature? Indeed, we often rather mean 'the atmosphere it radiates'. Combining insights from cultural memory studies scholarship on memorials and memory metaphors as well as from architectural theory and philosophy, this paper will ask: what do different materials mean in memory contexts and why? Which materials carry clearly identifiable cultural meanings in relation to remembering? In which cultural contexts and on which cultural and material bases? How are materials integral to our understanding of the passing of time, memory and the relationship between the present and the past? How does our understanding


Justyna Tabaszewska

Memory of Future (Eco)Crises. Olga Tokarczuk's Reactive Narratives and Diagnosing Latent Crises

This paper hypothesizes that certain types of literary narratives can be interpreted as presaging already existent but as yet imperceptible crises or catastrophes. This phenomenon is especially interesting in the case of 'Events' (Berlant) that surpass human imagination and exceed our perceptual abilities, and which are therefore overlooked due their sheer immensity. One example of these was offered by G. Anders in his analyses of the nuclear threat (and later by Morton who focused on ecological catastrophes). Literary narratives, which permit both proximity to and distance from described phenomena, may lend the perspective necessary to identify such already existing but yet not fully perceived crises. They also often construct interesting memory schemas, in which those future crises can be remembered and compared to events from the past. Thus, literary narratives are capable of framing and reacting to crises in their early stages and of intervening in their development by turning the collective gaze towards them. This quality of literature, which I describe as its 'reactivity', is founded in the ability to inspire trust in the perspective mediated by a specific narrative and individual narrator.

In the paper, I will analyze the work of Olga Tokarczuk as an example of an affective, reactive narrative, molded to elicit trust in the reader through the use of a variety of and by utilizing a complex literary tradition not limited to Polish literature (cf. S. Alexievich). In this case, trust (understood as a highly specific affect, akin to empathy, and not as an intellectual response of validating some statement as true) serves as a tool for building a broad collective memory of possible futures. The method of the "affectionate narrator," explored by Tokarczuk in works such as Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead or The Books of Jacob, reveals that the literary narrative can be used for familiarizing and memorizing crises that would otherwise remain beyond the boundaries of discourse.


Hanna Teichler

Oceans as Metaphor and Environment. Transoceanic Remembering in Anglophone Literature

In 2019, Kenyan author Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor published an unusual novel: In The Dragonfly Sea, Owuor engages with a mnemonic complex that has recently gained importance for Chinese Kenyan relations. The Dragonfly Sea (re)tells the story of a young girl, Ayaana, who is of Chinese descent, and who aspires to leave behind the remote island of Pate to pursue an education in China. Her ancestry is vitally important insofar as this Chinese heritage relates her to the shipwrecked sailors of the legendary Treasure Voyages undertaken by the Ming Dynasty in the early 15th century. In recent years, Admiral Zheng He's adventures were mythologized as the origin story of today's Sino African relations which have gained new traction in the global economic and political sphere as an exemplary case of blossoming South South relations. The Dragonfly Sea indeed is invested in exploring the heralded South South relations, yet presents them in all their ambiguity. Owuor's novel thus presents a paradigmatic case to analyse the relationship between memory, environment and literary fiction: In such transoceanic texts, the Indian Ocean is used as a mnemonic metaphor, as a space in which to imagine the manifold entanglements created by transcultural encounters, and to reassemble the mnemonic relations. To achieve this effect, such texts deploy the ocean as a structuring device of the narrative. In this paper, I propose a three tiered model to describe the "agency of the aesthetic" (Rigney) of literary fiction in processes of remembering. There is the microscale, the diegetic universe of the text itself, in which individual agents act out and represent larger mnemonic complexes. This microscale level is concerned with the symbolic dimensions of a text, and is closely connected to the mesoscale the literary form and the literary relations (intertext, afterlives, etc) that a text engages in. The third scale is the macroscale which I conceptualize as the (potentially) global literary market place with its rules and routes of circulation (or stasis), and which in more than one way is concerned with the tension between geopolitics 

Dr/Research Fellow
,
Goethe-University Frankfurt
Early Career Teaching and Research Fellow in German Studies
,
University of Edinburgh
dr
,
The Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences
Postdoctoral Researcher
,
Goethe University Frankfurt
Senior Lecturer
,
King's College London
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