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October 30, 2005

About the Popular Memory & Narrative Study Group

The Popular Memory & Narrative Study Group (PMN Study Group) is a new initiative that provides an informal network of discussion for people wishing to explore a wide range of issues connected with the social production and function of remembering and forgetting. It meets occasionally providing a forum for:

  • discussion of readings chosen by the group
  • presentation of work-in-progress
  • invitation of guest speakers
  • informal debate of theoretical, methodological and epistemological interest on issues memory and narrative

The group’s web blog facilitates a ‘virtual’ community, providing a forum for those interested in memory and narrative, allowing the group to ‘meet’ regularly throughout the year wherever its members are.

A guiding principle of the study group is to explore the relationship between memory and narrative – the linguistic vehicle through which memories are summoned, shaped and made meaningful. It assumes an interdisciplinary approach to the social and cultural dynamics of memory, combining sociology, psychoanalytic social theory and cultural studies. Membership is open to staff and post-graduate students from across the faculty of social studies.

Focusing on various aspects of memory, from the everyday to the traumatic, it will pursue a number of inter-related and overlapping questions of thematic relevance. Chiefly, what is the function of memory and narrative in the construction of social identity and the creation of a sense of self? How are individual memories related and reflective of wider social collectivities? How, and in what ways, can personal memory be seen to be porous – permeated by social, political and cultural processes seemingly ‘external’ to the individual? What role is played by the unconscious imagination in the transformation of personal memory? Can we ever have access to ‘pure’ memory untainted by cultural ‘artefacts’ – of visual media and the stories of others? What are the social, cultural and sensory apparatus through which memories are summoned and shaped?

Selected Readings

Andrews, M. et al (eds) (2000) Lines of Narrative: Psychosocial Perspectives. London: Routledge.
Antze, P. and Lambek, M. (Eds) (1996) Tense Past: Cultural Essays in Trauma and Memory. London: Routledge.
Butler, T. (ed) (1989) Memory. Oxford: Blackwell.
Clare, M. and Johnson, R. (2000) ‘Method in our Madness: Identity and Power in a Memory Work Method’, in Radstone (2000).
Haug, F. (1987) Female Sexualisation: A Collective Work of Memory. London: Verso.
Langer, L. (1991) Holocaust Testimony: The Ruins of Memory. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Linden, R. (1993) Making Stories, Making Selves: Feminist Reflections on the Holocaust. Columbus: Ohio State University Press.
Misztal, B. (2003) Theories of Social remembering. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Popular Memory Group (1998) ‘Popular Memory: Theory, Politics and Memory’, in Perks, R. and Thomas, A. (eds) Oral History: a Reader. London: Routledge.
Radstone, S. (ed) (2000) Memory and Methodology. Oxford: Berg.
Sebald, W. G. The Emigrants. London: Harvill

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  • This is most interesting to me. I am keen to follow developments and now subscribe via RSS Independe… by Kate Hillier (Miss) on this entry
  • Dear Sean, Thank you for bringing news of the Centre for Popular Memory to our attention. I am sure … by on this entry
  • I have just discovered the memory and narrative study group, which I think is a wonderful idea, and … by Sean Field on this entry

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