German Studies Association of Australia


Erinnerungskrisen / Memory Crises
26th - 29th September 2007
Melbourne, Australia, venue TBA

Recent years have seen an explosion of interest 
in the concept of memory (Erinnerung and 
Gedächtnis). Across the humanities memory studies 
are now very much a transdisciplinary enterprise 
particularly with the growing number of 
disciplines such as information technology, 
communications theory, medicine, neuroscience and 
neuropsychology entering the field. The plurality 
of approaches has in turn led to a proliferation 
of new concepts, such as cultural memory, 
collective memory, communicative memory, 
experiential memory, emotional memory, family 
memory, bodily memory, traumatic memory, the 
archive, places/spaces of memory, and, more 
recently, theories of the social basis of 
individual memory.

A common theme in all the literature is the idea 
of crisis. Aleida Assmann speaks of a current 
"crisis of cultural memory," Pierre Nora of the 
disappearance of memory and Doris Laub and 
Shoshana Felman see the Holocaust as representing 
a "radical historical crisis of witnessing." 
Similarly, discussions of the decline of 
traditional forms of knowledge such as 
Bildungsgedächtnis and rote learning and the 
impact of the shift from analogue to digital 
technologies also draw on this rhetoric of crisis.

But do moments of crisis necessarily mean loss 
and forgetting? What are the possibilities for 
remembering in "moments of danger," as Benjamin 
once remarked? Can crises be prompters for new 
practices of remembering, new inscriptions and 
transformations of the past? How do "memory 
communities" and individuals enable the constant 
"actualization of the past in the present" 
(Vergegenwärtigung) in their interests? Can 
crises in memory mark the beginnings of new media 
or genres of remembrance and alternative 
communities of remembering?

The focus of this conference is on memory crises. 
These may deal with crises of media and 
techniques of archiving, crises in canon 
formation and traditions, national moments of 
crises in remembrance, crises in cultural memory 
caused by historical ruptures (e.g. by 
catastrophes such as war, revolution, epidemics) 
or personal moments of crisis in individuals' 
lives (such as adolescence, sickness, death), the 
problem of false memory and post-memory etc.

Papers are invited from all areas of German 
Studies, especially from literary studies, 
cultural studies and linguistics that address the 
theme of the conference. The following is a list 
of possible areas for discussion:
Literary Studies:
o	Memory and canon formation
o	Crises in literary movements
o	Transformations in genres of memory
o	Literary forms of memorialisation and commemoration
o	Poetics of memory
o	Memory and historical crises (such as 1789, 1848, 1945, 1989)
o	Testimonial literature and post-memory
Cultural Studies:
o	Sites and places/spaces of memory
o	Memorial politics
o	Medial transformations in remembrance practices
o	language contact and memory
o	memory, the archive and language variations
o	language, memory and identity

Papers from members of the GSAA that do not 
address the theme are invited for inclusion in 
the general section of the conference. These 
might be workshop and/or panel suggestions on 
topics like pedagogical innovations etc. 
Abstracts of 200-300 words should be sent to: 
[log in to unmask] by 15 February 2007.

Associate Professor Alison Lewis, FAHA
Head, Department of German, Russian and Swedish Studies
The School of Languages
The University of Melbourne
VIC 3010
Ph  (03) 8344 5103
Fax (03) 8344 7821
The German Studies Call for Papers List
Editor: Stefani Engelstein
Assistant Editor:  Megan McKinstry
Sponsored by the University of Missouri
Info available at: