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CALL. 23.02.2019: Memory and Emotions in Antiquity - Rethymno (Greece)













LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: (Rethymno. Greece)








Researchers in the fields of neuroscience and psychology and philosophers explore the relationship between memory and emotions. Despite the salience of memory in ancient lay and scientific understandings of emotions, the topic remains under-explored. E.g. as early as Hesiod’s Theogony, poetry, the domain of Mnemosyne’s daughters, is granted with the power to offer forgetfulness of cares, even as they resist lethe. The ‘I’ of a modern Greek folk song, a young man who is about to migrate is given the following lines: ‘when I forget, I’m happy, (but) when I remember, I’m sorrowful’. Memory is pivotal to emotions because it commonly shapes the appraisals which define their phenomenology.       

On a cognitive level, memories of emotive experiences seem to be more vivid than ‘neuter’ memories. E.g. compare one’s memories of the day that one’s child/children was/were born to, say, the last faculty meeting that she attended. Researchers debate over the accuracy of emotion-laden memories and the questions that they raise are particularly akin to ancient systematic approaches to memory or to memory’s interfaces with phantasia and the ways in which we respond emotionally to the mental images which these akin cognitive faculties yield. In this conference, we want to ask questions about both ancient modes of understanding the interfaces between memory (qua a cognitive capacity) and emotions and the implications of memories, i.e. recalled events, for the literature and the cultures that attract our attention. 

Memory is intrinsic to our emotional experience because emotions typically have a narrative background which determines their intentionality. My grief for the death of a friend or a relative brings to my mind past experiences which I shared with her. Memory, thus, contributes significantly to my sense that my life will no longer be the same without her. Furthermore, recent discussions emphasize the importance of autobiographical memory for readers’ emotive responses to literature. The very first pages of Proust’s narrative, indeed a trivial but telling example, not only indicate the interconnections between autobiographical memories and the acts of writing and reading, but also indicate the extent to which our senses (or more generally our embodied experience) are related to memories that activate our present emotional experiences. Autobiographical and sensory memories are therefore functional to our emotional engagement with narratives. Furthermore, discursive or artistic representations of collective memories determine the construction of traditions and invite audiences or spectators to respond emotionally to them. Correlatively, memories are also central to emotionally loaded experiences of communal life: emotional responses to ritual practices, political deliberation, and dramatic performances are shaped by participants’ shared memories, while their emotional qualities grant them with lasting memorability.

We invite papers on subjects related to, but not exclusively about:
•       Ancient and modern cognitive approaches to memory and emotions
•       Memory, phantasia, and emotions
•       Collective memories and emotions
•       Monuments, memories, and emotions
•       Autobiographical memory, emotions, and audiences’/readers’ responses to literature
•       Memory and consolation
•       Ancient poetics/rhetoric, memory, and emotions
•       Memory and ‘pathological’ emotions
•       Conceptual/embodied metaphors for memory and emotions
•       Memory, the senses, and emotions
•       Trauma and emotions
•       Emotions and the deployment of civic/collective memory
•       Rituals, memory, and emotions


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