Past Events


On 26 May 2017 Professor Alison Landsberg gave a public lecture in Parliament Hall entitled ‘Post Post-racial America’, as part of our annual workshop. Alison is Professor of History and Cultural Studies at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. She is the author of Engaging the Past: Mass Culture and the Production of Historical Knowledge (Columbia UP, 2015) and Prosthetic Memory: The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture (New York: Columbia UP, 2004) as well as numerous articles and book chapters. Her research on flm, television and museums has focused on the modes of engagement they solicit from individuals and the possibilities therein for the production and acquisition of empathy, memory, and historical knowledge in the public sphere.

2016 witnessed a seismic shift in the racial landscape of the United States. The prevailing discourse about a ‘post-racial America’, though always, in the words of Catherine Squires, a ‘mystique’, was firmly and finally extinguished with the election of Donald J. Trump. While race, in the form of racial prejudice, was erupting in Trump’s political rhetoric and in the rhetoric of his supporters, race was being spoken in a very different way by social movements such as Black Lives Matter and by a series of new mass cultural texts. Less than two months before election day, the National Museum of African American History and Culture opened in Washington DC. The struggle over race, the museum asserts, is the defining narrative of America, the fundamental contradiction that constitutes the nation. Through its strategic use of images, objects and voiceovers, the museum creates what Jacques Rancière calls ‘dissensus’, recasting the ‘distribution of the sensible’. The museum, in its very presence on the National Mall, its provocative display strategies and its narrative, puts into action something like the political. In a somewhat different way, the 2017 horror film Get Out also heralds the post post-racial. Like the museum, the film makes an intervention into the ‘distribution of the sensible’, performing political work by reimagining what can be seen, said, and thought.


On 14 March 2016 we held a workshop in the Arts Lecture Theatre to showcase the various interdisciplinary approaches to Cultural Memory within the University, with the participation of Prof. Leo Spitzer and Prof. Marianne Hirsch.
There will be an inaugural public lecture by Prof. Marianne Hirsch in Parliament Hall at 5pm.

Professor Leo Spitzer gave a talk on ‘Improbable Images: School Photos in Holocaust Europe’ and spoke about photographic images of Jewish school children taken in various ghettos, transit camps, and in hiding during World War Two as both memorial objects and objects of resistance.

Programme- Cultural Memory Workshop 14 March 2016

Inaugural Lecture
University of St Andrews, Parliament Hall, 5 p.m.
Monday, March 14 2016

Professor Marianne Hirsch: ‘Small Acts: Mobilizing Memory Across Borders’

How can the memory of violent pasts be mobilized for a more progressive and hopeful future? This talk explores how the academic study of meory can respond to the renewed monumentality we find in memory museums, memorials and commemorative rituals that perpetuate nationalism and ethnocentrism. Connecting the memory of the Holocaust with that of other histories of political violence, the talk searches for mobile and mutable artistic practices that can effect little resistances and small acts of repair.

Marianne Hirsch
William Peterfield Trent Professor of English and Comparative Literature
Director, Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality



‘Past As Future: Capturing the Echoes of Genocide Through Fiction’
Arts Seminar Room 7
Date: Thursday 11 February, 2016
REIF LARSEN’s first novel, The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet, was a New York Times bestseller and is currently translated in twenty-seven languages. The novel was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the James Tait Black memorial Prize and was adapted into a movie by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amélie). Larsen’s essays and fiction have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Tin House, one story, The Millions, Travel + Leisure, Virginia Quarterly Review, Asymptote Journal and The Believer. His second novel, I Am Radar, was published in 2015 by Penguin Press in the US and Harvill Secker in the UK. Larsen is currently serving as the International Writer-in-Residence at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.



PUBLIC LECTURE: Dr Cara Levey, ‘Generation Next: Postmemorial Affiliations and Activism in Post-dictatorship Argentina and Uruguay’
Time and Place: 5pm in the Buchanan Building 216, Union St.
Date: 10 May 2016

Dr Cara Levey is a Lecturer in the Department of Hispanic Studies, University College Cork (Ireland). Her main research interests lie in Latin American human rights, memory and justice and the activism and cultural production related to these themes. She is particularly interested in the relationship between memorialisation and justice and the role of state and society in the construction and completion of “sites of memory” (including marches, memorials and museums).



BROWN BAG SESSIONS Semester 2: 2015-16

The Group will meet on the last Wednesday of the month (1-2pm, Quad 31) to discuss current research with colleagues. All are welcome.

February 24: Dr Gavin Bowd (French). ‘A case of colonial suicide? The death of Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo’
March 30: Prof. Dina Iordanova (Film Studies). ‘Wanted Images, Unwanted Bodies: Circuitous Memory Work and Gypsy Representations in Film’ (work in progress)
April 27: Gabriel Sewell (Library, Special Collections)
May 25: Guadalupe Elias Arriaga (Spanish PG). ‘Mexican women writers, 1900-1950’