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Graduate Seminar “Aesthetics and Ethics of Memory” (Aarhus, 20-22/09/2012)

'Aesthetics and Ethics of Memory' is the inaugural seminar of Mnemonics: Network for Memory Studies, a newly established international collaborative initiative for graduate education in memory studies.

Aesthetics and ethics often intersect in relation to the representation of collective memories, especially those of disturbing events or experiences. While decorum is naturally called for in addressing a traumatic past, it can also be argued, from an ethical standpoint, that traumatic memories must be represented in a compelling and unforgettable manner. Representational strategies thus have to find a balance between being ineffectual and irrelevant and being potentially offensive and provoking.

At the seminar a number of questions following from the main theme will be discussed:

  • What are the limits of representation?
  • How do certain forms and practices challenge these limits?
  • How is this reflected in memory politics?
  • Do the limits differ from medium to medium, e.g. from a public monument to a film or a text?
  • Are there practices connected to memory that highlight relations between aesthetics and ethics?

Venue: ‘Kasernen’ at Aarhus University, Department of Aesthetics and Communication, Langelandsgade 139, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Building 1585 and 1584.


September 20 (room 212)

14:00  Registration and welcome (NB! in building 1585, the foyer)

14:30  Keynote, Andrea Pinotti: ‘Monument Nonument: The Paradoxes of Monumental Memory (chair: Mads Rosendahl Thomsen)

15:45  Coffee

16:15  Panel 1: Forms of historical representation (chair: Stijn Vervaet)
          Agata Pietrasik (Warsaw / Berlin): The Ethics of Form: The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial
          Maud Guichard-Marneur (Copenhagen): The form of historical representation within the museum setting of the Schindler Factory Museum, Krakow, Poland

17:30  Panel 2: Memory and the archive (chair: Kristina Fjelkestam)
          Ole V.G. Olesen-Bagneux (Copenhagen): Is the library memory?
          Marcos Beck Bohn (Sao Paolo): The Time of Recollection

19:00  Dinner (tapas buffet at the university)


September 21 (different rooms; see below)

9:15   Keynote: Sharon Macdonald: ‘Cosmopolitanism and transnational heritage’ (in Store sal, chair: Mads Rosendahl Thomsen)

10:30  Coffee

11:00  Panel 3: Performances of memory (in room 120, chair: Stijn Vervaet)
          Jenelle Davis (Illinois): Counter-Memorials and Commemorative Actions: Contemporary Memorial Practices in Post-Katrina New Orleans
          Nadiya Chushak (Melbourne): Mesmerized by the Nostalgic Representations of the Yugoslav Past? Aesthetics and Ethics of Yugonostalgia
          Sara Tanderup (Aarhus): At the Limits of Literary Representation

12:30  Lunch

13:45  Panel 4: Negotiations of national heritage (in room 112, chair: Frederik Tygstrup)
          Karen Lindo and Giullia Nazarro: Australian National Heritage: Civilizing the Natives for Cultural Consumption?
          Hanna Teichler (Frankfurt): Fiction, facts and forcible removal: Narrative depictions of Australia’s (post)colonial history
          Alice Heeren (Illinois): On Mourning and Historical Amnesia: The Perennial Modernity of Brazilian Architecture

          Panel 5 is cancelled due to cancellation from Olga Rodriguez. Alice Heeren is moved to panel 4

15:15  Coffee

15:45  Panel 6: Transnational memories of the Holocaust (in room 112, chair: Stijn Vervaet)
          Zhuang Wei (Frankfurt): The medial representation of the „Shanghai Ghetto“ (1943-1945)
          Anna Szász (Budapest): “I am not concerned with copying anymore. I paint all my thoughts.” Politics and ethics in Omara’s work
          Kirril Shields (Queensland): Selective Memory: Australian Culture, Australian Literature, and a Nation’s Representation of the Third Reich Perpetrator

19:00  Dinner at ‘Godsbanen’


September 22 (in room 212)

9:30   Keynote, Ann Rigney: ‘Memory by Numbers: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Counting’ (chair: Mads Rosendahl Thomsen)

10:45  Coffee

11:00  Panel 7: Literature as a medium of memory (chair: Frederik Tygstrup)
          Chris Lloyd (London): Remembering Slavery: Museums, Monuments, Novels
          Maria Elisabeth Hüren (Frankfurt): (Re-)Attaching Detached Readers: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sunas a Postcolonial Civil War Narrative
          Palle Nørgaard (Aarhus): Self-representation and the other: Ethical Dimensions of New Spanish Life Writing in Esther Tusquets and Kirmen Uribe

12:30  Lunch (sandwiches)

13:30  Panel 8: The aesthetics of complicity (chair: Pieter Vermeulen)
          Veronique Bragard (Louvain) and Karen Lindo: The sensorial redemption of the perpetrator’s tale: Style and confession in Wilfried N’Sondé’s Le Silence des esprits
          Toby Smethurst (Ghent): Perpetration and Victimhood in W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz and On The Natural History of Destruction
          Maria Zirra (Utrecht): Complicitous Poetics: The Aesthetics of Confession in the Poetry of Seamus Heaney and Derek Walcott

15:00  Coffee

15:30  Panel 9: After witnessing (chair: Pieter Vermeulen)
          Daniel Pedersen (Stockholm): Memory and Holocaust after the Last Witness
          Joana Craveiro (London): Foreign Looks on the Portuguese Revolution: Displaced and post-memory approaches to a dictatorship, revolution and post-dictatorship
          Johanne Bøndergaard (Aarhus): Authentically sick: On the case of Casper Schjødt Nielsen: Samlede Journaler 1996-2009

17:00  Roundtable talk / closing remarks

18:30  Dinner (tapas buffet at the university)

Research Assistant, PhD, Kasper Green Krejberg. Email: kaspergk@hum.au.dk, Phone: + 4587163067 / +4531127374
Associate Professor, PhD, Mads Rosendahl Thomsen. Email: litmrt@hum.au.dk, Phone: +4587163029

Please note that paper presentations are scheduled to 20 min plus 10 min for discussion.

Keynote speakers are:

Sharon Macdonald, Professor, Department of Sociology, The University of York. Professor Macdonald is the author of Difficult Heritage: Negotiating the Nazi Past in Nuremberg and Beyond (Routledge, 2009).

Andrea Pinotti, Professor of Philosophy, Università degli Studi, Milan. Professor Pinotti directs the programme “Monument. Nonument. Politique de l’image mémoirelle, esthétique de la mémoire matérielle” at the Collège International de Philosophie, Paris.

Ann Rigney, Professor of Comparative Literature, Utrecht University. Professor Rigney is the author of The Afterlives of Walter Scott: Memory on the Move (Oxford UP, 2012).

Practical Information

Where: Aarhus University, Denmark

When: 20-22 September  2012

Fee: 250 euros; please pay and register via AU Webshop before June 22, 2012 (the fee is payable with the following credit cards: VISA, MasterCard, Maestro, VISA Electron, American Express, JCB).

What’s included: Attendance, accommodation in tourist-class hotel in the centre of Aarhus, all meals

What’s not included: Travel

Aarhus is easily accessible from both Billund (BLL) and Aarhus (AAR) airports and by train from Copenhagen.

Learn more about Aarhus University at http://www.au.dk/en/.