The notion of amnesia is embedded in the complex intricacy that characterizes the interface between past and present, it manifests a relationship with the future as an ŕ-venir (to come), and refers to an involuntary and mainly pathological condition. If lethe is often linked to the desire, effort, or imperative choice to forget, avoid, efface and finally obliterate a ‘past’, amnesia seems related both to the inability to trace the past and to an urgency to remedy this state. On the one hand, lethe entails the paradox of making the subject declare that which s/he forgets as already forgotten and therefore leads him/her to remember it; respectively, the urge against lethe (“Don’t forget!”) testifies to forgetting as an everlasting danger and to the constant need to remind oneself to remember. On the other hand, the symptoms of amnesia are primarily detected by those not involved in it: I recognize the other's amnesia. Finally, if amnesia exempts its subject from any links to a past, it might also provide him/her with some kind of ‘unconditionality’.
How can one thus speak about cultural amnesia? If the current critical discourse refers to prefabricated, thus artificial, memory and lethe, can one argue for an involuntary loss of cultural memory? Who is the (critical) subject talking about cultural amnesia and which is the (historical) subject of amnesia itself? In which ways has amnesia been vital in articulating the connection between the cultural and the political across centuries? In which historical eras, literary movements and philosophical trends can one discern symptoms of cultural amnesia? Could amnesia be considered an integral feature of developments in the field of ideas? If so, why are memory and lethe predominant in critical discourse at the expense of amnesia and why do we keep forgetting the multiple amnesias of the past? Moreover, if Theory has led to the undermining of some philological practices and philosophical traditions, could one claim that this “lotus-eating” effect of Theory has enabled it to obtain a distinguished status in the global marketplace of ideas? Does Theory need to be based on some sort of amnesia? Finally, what is the relationship between cultural amnesia and the construction of diverse and often clashing literary canons throughout literary history but also at the dawn of the 21st century?
We invite contributions that will help build a trans-historical and inter-disciplinary overview of the poetics and politics of cultural amnesia, and further the understanding of the ways in which it is articulated both in critical discourses and in representational forms such as literature, historiography, film, and art, while concurrently shaping them.
Papers may address topics such as:
• cultural amnesia and the delineation of subjectivity/identity
• cultural amnesia and the constructions/representations of reality
• cultural amnesia as a tool for national and cultural myth-making
• cultural amnesia, slavery, and colonial exploitation
• cultural amnesia, war, trauma, and amnesty
• cultural amnesia, hospitality and forgiveness
• history and the anxiety of cultural amnesia
• cultural amnesia and narrative discontinuities
• cultural amnesia and corporeal inscriptions
• cultural amnesia, gender, and the queer
• the politics of cultural amnesia, the ‘death’ of philological analysis, the ‘forgotten’ philosophical traditions, and the rise of Theory
Detailed proposals for articles (800-1000 words) as well as any inquiries regarding this issue should be sent by email to both issue editors: Apostolos Lampropoulos (email@example.com) and Vassiliki Markidou (firstname.lastname@example.org). For information on the required length of articles, see link to the journal.
15.10.2008 submission of abstracts
31.10.2008 notification of acceptance
30.3.2009 submission of articles
31.8.2009 submission of the final version of the articles
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