The Australian Centre for Public History presents
SEMINAR: ‘The work of memory’? Historical thinking and education in France
Tuesday 12th June 4.30-6pm UTS, Sydney
Building 10, Level 14, Rm 201
Alexandre Dessingué (Stavanger University Norway)
Through his notion about ‘the work of memory’, Paul Ricoeur expresses the desire to make our relationship to the past an active, even a problematic one, and not to be the passive spectator that many commemorations encourage. The problem is not simply to regret that middle school or high school students are entirely absent from ceremonies commemorating May 8 or November 11. The real question is the one of the meaning to be given to past events. How can the past be perceived as a resource for the present and the future? What is the purpose of history and history teaching?
The city of Dunkirk and its inhabitants in Northern France have always been at the crossroads of Europe and for this reason were hard hit by both World Wars. In this presentation, we will have a closer look at firsthand accounts of city nursing home residents and ask with them how memories work, what they tell us about our relation we make with the past and why we should consider individual and collective memories as an important part of a critical and active work on/with history?
Alexandre Dessingué is Professor of Literacy Studies and History Education at the University of Stavanger, Norway. His research interests focus on cultural and collective memory, cultural representations of WW1, WW2, the Holocaust and of the colonial period, literary and memory theory, critical literacy/awareness and history education. He has published several articles, books and book chapters in the field of cultural memory studies and cultural history. His last publications include a co-edited volume with Jay Winter Beyond Memory: Silence and the Aesthetics of Remembrance (2016) and the book chapters “Paul Ricoeur: Understanding the Past and Writing the Future” (Routledge, 2017) and “The Ethics of Memory” in My Heart of Darkness” (Verlag, 2017).
With Pierre Bayard & Caroline Julliot
This presentation aims to promote public awareness of a significant trend in literary theory — detective criticism. We challenge the idea that writers can flawlessly master the fiction they create, especially when it comes to crime stories. Sometimes authors make fatal errors of judgement and vilify innocent characters, leaving the actual criminals unpunished. These secret villains can be unmasked by using detective criticism, which includes a rigorous investigational approach backed by sound supporting evidence. Additional insights also emerge when the detective criticism approach is applied; these provide an opportunity to re-evaluate some literary classics, including potentially changing our whole vision of these texts. A key idea behind these talks is that the time has come for fiction detectives all around the world to join forces so that justice may prevail.
Pierre Bayard is a psychoanalyst and Professor of French Literature at Paris 8 University. He is the author of numerous essays, including Who killed Roger Ackroyd ?, How to Talk about Books You Haven’t Read and Aurais-je été résistant ou bourreau ? (Would I Have Been in the Resistance or a Torturer?). His latest book, L’Énigme Tolstoïevski (The Tolstoievski Enigma), was published by Éditions de Minuit in 2017.
Caroline Julliot is a senior lecturer in French Literature at Le Mans University. In addition to her work on the writing of history and the links between politics, religion and literature, she is co-leader, with Pierre Bayard, of the InterCriPol research network (ICCPO, International Criminal Criticism Police Organization).
This event is sponsored by The University of Newcastle.