Memory, Testimony, and Forgetfulness

Event title (long): 
Philology, Memory, and Forgetfulness17-18 November 2008

(This International Symposium is part of the project "Memories: Between Mnemosyne & Lethe")

Centre for Comparative Studies (Faculty of Letters-University of Lisbon)
Closing date for submissions: 
31 May, 2008
Event dates: 
17.11.2008 - 18.11.2008


This Symposium examines the reciprocal relationship between memory and forgetfulness, showing how it both affects the construction of personal and collective memory, as well as the perception of historical experience and the production of historical narrative. We hope to shed some light on the study of the negative of memory through the modalities of forgetting, amnesia, amnesty, trauma, and censorship. Literature will not only be considered at the heart of a wider prospect – in which it will stand as a decisive form in the awareness of how personal, collective, and cultural identities are (trans)formed, (re)negotiated, and go under a permanent process of fundamental revision, but it will also be viewed as a field relating to several other fields, mainly those of law, psychoanalysis, neurology, and social history.

Mindful of the dichotomy between memory and forgetfulness, we will likewise try to understand what has been called the “return of philology.” Philology – the discovery, editing, and presentation of historical texts – has become available as a respectable posture for contemporary literary scholars. Previously a firmly established discipline that formed the core study for students across a wide range of linguistic and literary studies, “the power of philology” remains, as  Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht has argued, vital in bringing a renewed vision of the past to our present age.    

Possible approaches would include the following: Literature as a means of memory; The trauma of remembering; The collective trauma in the (re)creation of modern societies; Cultural identity in contact zones; The return of philology; Forgetfulness and redemption: amnesty and forgiveness; Visual culture and memory studies.     

While we expect proposals for papers and panels to be located within the broad problematic of memory and forgetfulness, they need not be limited to the topics listed above. We welcome analysis of a broad range of issues and texts (literature, cinema, theatre, popular culture, visual arts, theory), theoretical interventions, disciplinary, and interdisciplinary reflections, and provocations.    

The symposium will feature the following prominent keynote speakers (to be confirmed):  Ann Rigney (Utrecht University) Karl Heinz Bohrer (Stanford University) Márcio Seligmann-Silva (Unicamp) Roberto Vecchi (University of Bologna) Daniel Weidner (Zentrum fur Literatur- und Kulturforschung) Franziska Thun (Zentrum fur Literatur- und Kulturforschung) Rita Marquilhas (Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa)

     The symposium consists of plenary panels by invited keynote speakers, and parallel sessions for papers proposals. Abstracts will be reviewed by the Executive Committee and individual paper presentations should be 20 minutes long.

Paper proposals should be sent no later than 31 May 2008 to the following e-mail:

 or through regular mail to: 

ACT 20 – Philology, Memory, and Forgetfulnessa/c Ricardo Gil Soeiro/Sofia Tavares

Centro de Estudos Comparatistas

Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa

Alameda da Universidade 1600-214 LisboaPortugal     

Proposals should be accompanied by an abstract (max. 1500 caracters) and a brief curriculum vitae (max. 1500 caracters).

The Symposium fee is of 30 euros for those who are presenting their papers. These can be submitted in Portuguese and in English.

 Note: The interested participants in the publication of their papers in the collective volume ACT 20 – Philology, Memory, and Forgetfulness should submit the written version (max. 25.000 caracters) no lather than 31 January 2009, to be considered by the Executive Committee. 

Organizing Committee:

Helena Carvalhão Buescu

Fernanda Mota Alves

Ricardo Gil Soeiro

Sofia Tavares

Daniela di Pasquale

Executive Committee:

Ricardo Gil Soeiro

Sofia Tavares