“THE LIFE OF FORGETTING: ENDURING GHOSTS IN BRITISH LITERATURE”
JOURNÉE D’ÉTUDE – VENDREDI 4 MAI 2018
UNIVERSITÉ TOULOUSE-JEAN JAURES
LABORATOIRE CULTURES ANGLO-SAXONNES (CAS)
This one-day conference is the continuation of the conference on the uses of forgetting which we organized in March 2017. Again, forgetting will not be envisaged as the opposite of memory, as the inability to remember or as the obfuscations and obstructions related to traumatic experiences. We are concerned with the potentially productive uses of forgetting, with its creative interplay with memory. Forgetting and remembering will be seen as a collaborative pair, as they should be (“l’oubli comme force vive de la mémoire”, Augé, Les formes de l’oubli).
We are more specifically interested in the surviving traces resulting from the work of oblivion (Didi-Huberman’s “survivances” or Freud’s repressed “memory-traces”), in the remains or spectral presences that find their way into consciousness, and in the new literary/artistic visions that may emerge from the fragments, from the shards of the “broken glass” of oblivion which, Rushdie writes in “Imaginary Homelands”, proves to be “a useful tool with which to work in the present”.
We will consider how oblivion’s ghostly remains can give rise to literary/artistic reconfigurations, to the event or advent of the radically new (Lecercle, “Théorie de la hantise”). We will welcome papers dealing with the connections between forgetting and creation or the avant-garde (Todorov, Les abus de la mémoire), since forgetting makes for the possibility of emancipatory swerves from tradition, although, of course, the role of memory in creation should not be underestimated. Papers could perhaps investigate how oblivion’s production of uncertain, indescribable spectres challenges language and creates the conditions of new linguistic/narrative combinations.
We would also like to focus on the healing power of forgetting (perhaps in reaction to the contemporary preoccupation with commemoration and the duty of remembrance), its connections with peace-making either in individual or collective lives, on how laying the ghosts from the past may at times enable the subject to act in the present and for the future.