l’Université de Toulouse 2 le 24 mars 2017.
On The uses of Forgetting
We tend to think of forgetting as a flaw, an oversight or a lapse of memory. To forget is to be unable to remember, or to lose the remembrance of one’s past. It is to become unconscious or unaware. Our inability to remember, think or recall people, events or experiences is likely to be interpreted as negligence or deficiency. It may be seen as the emblem of our vulnerable historical condition (Ricoeur), or else as the symptom of a traumatic past, of troubled personal or collective histories, with their obfuscations and distortions. In this one-day conference, we would like to move away from the abuses of forgetting to focus on a more positive understanding of it. We wish to consider the constructive uses, benefits and even virtues of forgetting.
In this way, forgetting can be considered as the springboard of memory (rather than its sheer negation), what makes recollection possible. If forgetfulness becomes beneficial, even productive, one may interrogate its relation to creativity and literary creation, oblivion becoming a means of freeing oneself from heritage and tradition. To forget may also heal and restore; it can be linked to reconciliation and appeasement, soothing and forgiveness.
More than its anthropological or psychoanalytical dimensions, we would like to consider the idiosyncratically literary aspects of forgetting. How is oblivion conceived and represented in British literature over the centuries?