Profs launch new book at round table on cultural memory

Following the wars of the 20th century, how does cultural memory strengthen or undermine social and political cohesion in a time of global migrations? That question will be discussed at the upcoming round table, Memory Studies and the Identity Problem: A Cross Reading of European and Canadian Cultural Traditions.

The round table will take place Tuesday, Sept. 7, from 6:30 to 8pm, at the Campbell Conference Facility in the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, 1 Devonshire Place in Toronto.

Two books will provide the jumping off point for the speakers – York English Professor Julia Creet, York humanities Professor Andreas Kitzmann and English Professor Elena Lamberti of the University of Bologna in Italy – as they tackle the issue of memory in a global setting.

The first book is the forthcoming Memory and Migration: Multidisciplinary Approaches to Memory Studies (University of Toronto Press, 2010), edited by Creet and Kitzmann of the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.

In addition to the panel discussion, the event is also the launch of Memory and Migration, which is expected out in September. This international collection of essays looks at the integral part memory plays in how individuals and societies construct identity. Memory is usually considered in the context of a stable, unchanging environment, but this collection explores the effects of immigration, forced expulsions, exile, banishment and war on individual and collective memory.

The second book is Memories and Representations of War: The Case of World War I and World War II (Rodopi, 2009),edited by Lamberti and Vita Fortunati, also of the University of Bologna. Memories and Representations of War assesses how memories of the two World Wars have been readjusted each time in relation to the evolving international historical setting and through various mediators of memory, including cinema, literature, art and monuments. The essays help unveil a cultural panorama inhabited by contrasting memories and by divided memories and acknowledge the ethical need for a truly shared act of reconciliation.

Lamberti, who teaches American and Canadian literature, will discuss reconciliation during the round table, while Creet will talk about reconceptualizing cultural memory given the displacements and mobility of people in the 20th century. Kitzmann will present a specific case study on the expulsion of ethnic Germans after the Second World War and York architectural history and visual culture Professor Shelley Hornstein of the Faculty of Fine Arts will act as moderator.

Creet is the producer and director of MUM, a documentary drawn from her mother’s memoirs, letters and poems, and which leads to Hungary where local memory reveals the story her mother tried to forget. (See YFile, May 6, 2008.) She also teaches memory studies and literary nonfiction at York.

Kitzmann has written widely on the impact of communications technology on the construction and practice of identity, electronic communities, and the influence of new media on narrative conventions. He is the author of Saved from Oblivion: Documenting the Daily from Diaries to Web Cams (Peter Lang Publishing, 2004) and Hypertext Handbook: The Straight Story (Peter Lang, 2006), and co-editor of Memory Work (Peter Lang Publishing, 2005).

Lamberti is the author of several books, including Interpreting/Translating European Modernism: A Comparative Approach (Compositori, 2001). She is currently completing the forthcoming volume, Marshall McLuhan’s Critical Writing: Probing the Literary Origins of Media Studies.

Hornstein is the co-editor of Capital Culture: A Reader on Modernist Legacies, State Institutions, and the Value(s) of Art (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2000) and Image and Remembrance: Representation and The Holocaust (Indiana University Press, 2002). She is currently completing the forthcoming book, Losing Site: Architecture, Memory and Place. Hornstein is was the recipient of the 2008-2009 Walter L. Gordon Fellowship.

Anyone wishing to attend the round table should RSVP before Sept. 4 to 416-921-3802 ext. 221 or Admission to the event is free.

The round table is presented by the Italian Cultural Institute in Toronto in collaboration with the European Union Centre of Excellence at the Centre for European, Russian & Eurasian Studies at the University of Toronto, the University of Bologna and the Canadian Centre for German & European Studies at York University, with the support of the European Union National Institutes for Culture.

For more information, visit the Italian Cultural Institute in Toronto Web site.