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Rhetoric Memory Archive Museum

Workshop Leader: Michael Bernard--Donals, University of Wisconsin--Madison

Workshop Leader:

Michael Bernard--Donals, University of Wisconsin--Madison

Our goal in this workshop is to make clear the relation of memory to the spaces in which those memories reside and are made visible, and to the bodies on which those memories are inscribed and through which they are performed. We will think seriously about the discursive and extra-­‐discursive aspects of memory as rhetorical, and trace the connections among writing, space, and memory in historical, theoretical, and practical terms. The principal spaces in which we will take up these connections are the archive and the museum, broadly conceived, each of which can be understood as a locus in which what is written and what is remembered are held in tension, producing an effect for the reader or the museum-­‐visitor that both produces knowledge and works against knowledge, an effect that is felt bodily as much as it is understood reasonably.

As one of the canons of rhetoric, ‘memoria’ has frequently been ignored, but memory itself – how individual and cultural memory function as a foundation for writing, and in particular the writing of history – has been a significant subject of study in the last few years, not just in rhetoric but in English studies more generally. Some of the questions that have prompted this interest have originated in studies of seminal historical events, but they can be extended more broadly to the everyday: how does the subject describe events that have been imprinted upon or lost to memory? how do traces of events that seem to defy our capacity to understand them become inscribed in language? how might the speaking subject be said to embody or perform memory? how does space encumber, and how does it make possible, the inscription or performance of memory?

We will discuss theoretical, rhetorical, and historical approaches to memory, space, and the body – including Aristotle and Cicero on memory; Hyde and Hawhee on ethos and kairos; Krell, White and Wyschogrod on memory and history; Merleau-­‐Ponty, Zizek and Grosz on embodiment; and Barthes and Derrida on archives and images – and a significant portion of our time will be devoted to participants’ work in progress. Participants from all levels of experience are welcome. Participants will submit in advance a brief (5-­‐ to 7-­‐page) piece of writing: an excerpt from a dissertation chapter or prospectus, a reflection on methodology, a set of notes from archival work, a case study, or some other related text. Though our point of departure in the workshop will be the contemporary museum/archive, participants are encouraged to bring work from any period, geographical region, or theoretical perspective.

Questions should be directed to Michael Bernard--Donals at

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