Andreas Huyssen has recently pronounced that contemporary Western culture is ‘obsessed with the issue of memory’. At the close of the twentieth century, he argued, memory was given both prominence and visibility through the widespread popularity of the museum, and the resurgence of the monument and the memorial as aesthetic forms. He particularly highlighted in this regard the inauguration of Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum in Berlin, but the beginning of the twenty-first century has seen other notable examples, most strikingly Peter Eisenman’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, also in Berlin, and Libeskind’s controversial design of the Freedom Tower for the rebuilding of Ground Zero in New York. For Huyssen, the contemporary memory fever is indissociable from ‘the virus of amnesia that at times threatens to consume memory itself’. In particular, he links memory’s resurgence to the development of new media technologies, which engender an accelerated form of temporality with their instant entertainment, frenetic pace, and quick oblivion. Cultural obsessions with memory represent what Huyssen has termed a ‘reaction formation’ against such accelerated technical processes, an ‘attempt to slow down information

processing’ and to temporality boom as a ‘potentially healthy sign of contestation’ against the waning of historical consciousness (1995: 9). Huyssen’s analysis of the current preoccupation with memory is

valuable, but his exclusive focus on the impact of new technologies remains somewhat narrow. We can usefully supplement his work with David Lowenthal’s investigation into why ‘heritage’ has loomed so large in Western societies over the past few decades. Lowenthal is also alert to the influence of technology, and our desire in the face of rapid and pervasive change to ‘keep our bearings’ (1996: 6). However, he also points to the importance of the ‘[m]assive migration’ that has characterized the latter half of the twentieth century, and which acts to ‘sharpen nostalgia’ (1996: 9). Displacement is therefore countered by a quest for roots (the contemporary fascination with genealogy is especially marked among immigrant and diasporic populations) and a desire for mementoes of lifestyles that have been lost. We could add a number of further causes to those identified by Lowenthal. A renewed interest in memory followed from the popularization of discourses of virtual memory, prosthetic memory, and the electronic memory of computers. At the same time, there has been a marked rise in concern with popular memory, and a proliferation of archives, particularly oral archives, established to preserve the memories of ordinary people. Jacques Le Goff cites as exemplary in this regard the foundation of The Oral History Society at the University of Essex, which created the journalHistory Workshop and contributed to a rebirth of social and labour history (1992: 96). Finally, we could also point to the need to deal with the painful legacy of the wars, genocides, and ethnocides that have punctuated the twentieth century. In this, the Holocaust has inevitably loomed large, but there has also been a broader concern with how other traumatic instances can be remembered and lived with in the present. This has given rise not only to a multitude of public memorials and acts of commemoration, but also, notably, to the Truth Commissions of South Africa, Guatemala, Argentina, and Chile. It is worth noting, however, that the recent surge of interest in

memory has also been viewed in a less positive light by some

commentators. sion with World War and the Holocaust, is ‘a sign not of historical confidence but of a retreat from transformative politics’. For him, memory work too often takes the form of group memories contending with one another for recognition of the group’s suffering, and ‘reflects a new focus on narrow ethnicity’ (1993: 150). Pitting memory against history, he aligns history with the desire for understanding and memory with a search for a melancholic form of emotion, which represents an ‘addiction’ and is potentially ‘neurasthenic and disabling’ (1993: 141). Kerwin Lee Klein is wary of the tendency in memory discourse to elevate memory ‘to the status of a historical agent’, so that ‘archives remember and statues forget’ (2000: 136). We should focus rather, he contends, on exactly who is doing the remembering and the forgetting. He also finds troubling the vague ‘theological concepts as well as vague connotations of spirituality and authenticity’ that pervade contemporary theorizing about memory (2000: 130). Like Susan Suleiman, I find such critiques salutary in foregrounding the need for continued critical self-reflection in memory studies. However, as Suleiman also notes, the recent critiques ‘to some extent miss the point’, for the obsession with memory, precisely because it is an obsession, ‘is not something that can be made to go away’ (2006: 7-8). My own critique of contemporary memory studies is located slightly differently compared with the points raised by the historians noted above. There has been a tendency in recent memory work to regard the current memory boom as unique and unprecedented, and thereby to overlook a long history of engagement with memory in the West. To this extent, memory studies have proved remarkably forgetful of their own (pre)history. This book aims to act as a corrective to such an approach, both by tracing the history of the term ‘memory’ in Western thought, and by locating the current memory boom as simply the latest of a series of preoccupations with memory which have punctuated Western culture. In tracing the history of the term ‘memory’, I am treating it as

what Mieke Bal has defined as a ‘travelling concept’. Bal’s use of this term is particularly pertinent for defining the aims and scope

of the present can travel between geographically dispersed academic communities’. As they travel, their meanings change, and such modes of difference ‘need to be assessed before, during and after each “trip”’ (2002: 24). Although the concept of ‘memory’ undoubtedly travels in fascinating ways between academic disciplines and across geographical space, my intention here is limited to how it has travelled between historical periods. As I have already indicated, the travel of memory across time demonstrates that memory has a history. It is not simply the case that every culture remembers its past; as Richard Terdiman notes, ‘how a culture performs and sustains this recollection is distinctive and diagnostic’ (1993: 3). Memory, then, is historically conditioned; it is not simply handed down in a timeless form from generation to generation, but bears the impress or stamp of its own time and culture. This volume seeks to gain some perspective on the pervasive and ubiquitous topic of memory precisely by historicizing it; by conceiving of it as, in Terdiman’s terms, ‘differentiated in time’ (1993: 9; original emphasis). The tracing of a history of ‘memory’, however partial, can also point to important breaks in that tradition, moments when the meaning of the concept shifts, and a discernible difference can be registered. The organization of the volume into four distinct chapters, as outlined below, seeks to map out the main points of historical transition that seem to me the most pertinent in the Western tradition. The volume is thus divided into the following, chronologically ordered chapters: the classical, medieval, and early-modern periods; the (re)conceptualization of memory in Enlightenment and Romantic thought; the late-modern ‘memory crisis’ emerging out of the French Revolution and lasting to the present; and the engagement with notions of collective memory in the twentieth century. The volume opens with a discussion of Platonic memory. I have

chosen to begin at this point because it was in Plato that memory was first defined as a distinct concept. Edward Craig has thus noted that ‘there is no mention of memory in the pre-Socratic fragments’ (1998: 296). This is not to say that memory was unimportant prior to Plato; on the contrary, memory was, as

Edward Casey (1987: 11). practical terms; the transmission of the rich oral culture of the Archaic period (twelfth to eighth centuries BC) depended on a trained and disciplined process of remembering. Until the introduction of alphabetic writing, the Greeks were forced to rely on the memorial powers of individuals, most notably the bards who recited epic poems such as The Iliad with no written texts to aid their memories. In order to perform this mnemonic feat, the bards utilized a number of mnemotechnic devices, including verbal patterns, systematic metres, and internally varying epithets. The transmission of the epic poem was so important, as Eric Havelock has pointed out, because it acted as a repository for cultural knowledge, forming ‘a sort of encyclopedia of ethics, politics, history, and technology, which the effective citizen was required to learn as part of his educational equipment’ (1963: 27). It was for this very reason that the bard did not simply recite the entire poem by heart, but used the mnemonic techniques as guides to composition in the present. In this way, a large part of his effort was directed to bringing the story into contact with current social conditions, preserving what was necessary for the present and transforming or discarding that which was no longer relevant. Plato, then, represents a critical moment of transition in rela-

tion to memory. Havelock notes that in the fifth century BC, although writing skills were gradually spreading through the Greek population, there was no corresponding increase in fluent reading, which meant that an ‘oral state of mind’ persisted (1963: 41). Nevertheless, the impact of writing among an educated elite allowed for ‘a review and rearrangement of what had … been written down’ and a corresponding ‘separation of [the self] from the remembered word’ (1963: 208). Havelock argues that the dialectical form, which is so intimately connected to Plato, developed from this more critical approach to the inherited tradition. Dialectic consists for Havelock in ‘forc[ing] the speaker to repeat a statement already made’, a rephrasing of the statement in question which was also a reviewing and an interrogation of it. Notably, although Platonic dialectic is closely bound to inscription in its origins, it does not represent a wholehearted

endorsement of accurately through dialectic, Plato sought to replace the poeticized rhythms and language of oral memory with what Havelock terms ‘an abstract language of descriptive science’ (1963: 236). Deploying this more conceptual discourse in his dialogues, Plato transformed a concern to preserve and transmit the past into a search into the nature of memory itself. Chapter 1 traces the development of the concept of memory

from its Platonic origins through to the late Renaissance period. It becomes evident from this chapter that classical, medieval, and early-modern practices of remembrance were not particularly concerned with reviving past events, but rather with bringing back to mind knowledge that had been previously stored. In this sense, we can see the persistence of the oral throughout this historical period. Reviewing the development of classical theories of memory, Edward Casey has observed a ‘growing secularization’ of the term (1987: 14). He thus points to the attribution to memory (Mnemosyne) of divine powers in early Greek culture; for Plato, in the fifth century, memory is connected with the divine Forms but is nevertheless a knowledge that is already possessed by the individual; while in the next generation, Aristotle brings memory fully ‘down to earth’ by connecting it with empirical rather than divine truths (1987: 15). The ‘art of memory’ that emerged in Roman rhetoric, and was inherited in turn by medieval and earlymodern scholars, comprised a system of mnemonics designed to aid recall, and so seemed again eminently practical in function. In Chapter 1, however, I also chart an alternative trend in memory work of this period, which witnesses a re-sacralization of the concept. This strand of thought runs from Augustine’s Christian adaptation of the ancient rhetorical theory of memory, through the integration of the ‘art of memory’ with the Christian morality of the Middle Ages, to reach its culmination in the Neoplatonic reshaping of the ‘art of memory’ in the fifteenth century as a cabalistic, astrological, and magical doctrine. In Chapter 2, I focus on Enlightenment and Romantic con-

ceptions of memory. In this chapter, the emphasis is on the relation between memory and the self; for all of the writers discussed,

memory is to identity. be revived or made actual again, in the sense of being brought into consciousness. For John Locke, this activity of reviving the past was an adjunct of reason, although for David Hume the distinction between reason and the imagination was not so clearly drawn. In the writers of the Romantic period, especially JeanJacques Rousseau and William Wordsworth, we can see a rich and complex literary expression of the powers of memory and the imagination to revive the past, and a reflection on the subjective vicissitudes of this activity. This period also sees a gradual shift away from memory as a conscious act of recollection or retrieval; increasing attention is focused by the Romantic writers on memories that arise by association or that come to mind entirely unbidden. In the nineteenth century, the development of a specialized

discipline of history accentuated a sense that memory was primarily subjective and concerned with the inner life. As Raphael Samuel elaborates: ‘[m]emory was subjective, a plaything of the emotions, indulging its caprices, wallowing in its own warmth; history, in principle at least, was objective, taking abstract reason as its guide and submitting its findings to empirical proof’ (1994: ix). However, Samuel quickly goes on to contest this view of memory as history’s ‘negative other’; rather, he contends, the two discourses are ‘dialectically related’ (1994: x). Samuel’s view closely accords with Richard Terdiman’s elaboration of a ‘memory crisis’ that was precipitated by the unprecedented social, political, and technological changes of the early nineteenth century. For Terdiman, the discourses of history and memory both acted as registers of this crisis, and both therefore ‘became critical preoccupations in the effort to think through what intellectuals were coming to call the “modern”’ (1993: 5). Chapter 3 uses Terdiman’s notion of a ‘memory crisis’ to frame an analysis of memory in the late-modern period, tracing an intellectual trajectory from Friedrich Nietzsche through Freud, Henri Bergson, and Marcel Proust, and into contemporary trauma theory. I argue that all of these writers are intensely concerned with a memory that has become somehow pathological, so that it seems that there is too

much memory The chapter seeks memory is indissociable from a long, late-modern ‘memory crisis’, and that recent new technologies, patterns of migration, and political shifts are not unique but had important, if necessarily distinct, antecedents in Western culture in the decades that followed the French Revolution. The final chapter has some chronological overlap with Chapter

3, for it explores a different tradition, emerging in the same period, which is focused on collective remembering. Although collective memory can be seen to have origins in the work of Freud and Bergson, it reached its full expression in the writing of Maurice Halbwachs in the first half of the twentieth century. Paul Ricoeur rightly points to the ‘intensely polemical situation’ in the European academy at the turn of the twentieth century that pitted against each other the disciplines of sociology and psychology. In this context, individual memory and collective memory were ‘placed in a position of rivalry’, although the two were not as opposed as they might initially have appeared (2004: 95). In Chapter 4, I elaborate on Ricoeur’s claim by addressing the different conceptions of the scale of the ‘collective’ across a number of theorists, including Halbwachs, Pierre Nora, James Young, and Jay Winter. I find that there are a range of models of what constitutes the collective, which posit varying distances in the relation between the self and others. I argue that collective remembering is more effective in closely tied social groups or networks. These close relations and affective bonds, with people who count for us, operate to some extent between individual and collective memory and support Ricoeur’s contention that, although the two discourses have become ‘estranged from each other’, they can justifiably be perceived as complementary in nature (2004: 95). The present volume therefore offers an account of memory that

emphasizes its historical vicissitudes. In so doing, my aim is to stress that memory’s meaning and value transform radically in different historical periods. In this sense, as Susannah Radstone has succinctly observed, ‘memory means different things at different times’ (2000: 3). Although I have invoked Bal’s notion of the ‘travelling concept’ to articulate the process by which memory

comes to differ talk of ‘memories’ times to exceed the bounds of a singular identity. To this extent, then, we could perhaps question whether the ‘art of memory’, ‘Romantic memory’, ‘traumatic memory’, and ‘collective memory’ can indeed be encapsulated by a single concept, or whether they might be more accurately considered in terms of plurality. My chronological organization of the volume seeks to underline the important shifts in memory discourse. However, I am aware that this risks producing a narrative that, although compelling, is also problematic in certain respects. The emphasis on epochal shifts therefore risks oversimplification, while a temporal or linear account of memory is overly suggestive of notions of progress and development. In the remainder of the Introduction, I therefore want to indicate an alternative trajectory that I have sought to map out in the course of the volume. Throughout the chapters, I have traced a number of key or critical ‘idioms’ of memory that insistently surface and resurface in Western thought. By focusing on the key motifs around which the conceptualization of memory has been consolidated, it is possible to move away from an exclusively historical approach and to think, rather, in terms of commonalities of idiom. In what follows, I will comment briefly on the three most important motifs that are highlighted in the book, namely inscription, spatial metaphors, and ‘body memory’. However, this preliminary survey is far from exhaustive and other idioms of memory can readily be discerned in the pages that follow. In his discussion of the French word mémoire(s), Jacques Derrida

notes that it escapes a singular meaning and is therefore not readily translatable. Unusually, the word differs in meaning across its masculine, feminine, and plural forms. La mémoire, in the feminine, designates the faculty or aptitude of memory, while its plural form refers to ‘memories’. The masculine, un mémoire, signifies a document, a report, a memorandum, and the masculine plural form can refer either to a number of such documents, or to writings that tell of a life: what we would term ‘memoirs’. Derrida thus notes that in French there is discrimination between what can be said in the masculine and feminine forms, such that the masculine always implies ‘a recourse to … the written mark’

(1989: 104). of inscription to writing is evident from the very outset of this volume, for Plato’s famous description of memory refers to the soul as a wax tablet which is inscribed or impressed with an image of the object to be remembered. The notion of the mind as a writing surface is remarkably consistent in the Western tradition and is evident, for example, in Roman rhetorical manuals; in Locke’s metaphor of the child’s mind as a blank piece of paper waiting to be inscribed; in Freud’s ‘Mystic Writing Pad’; and in Cathy Caruth’s image of trauma indelibly engraved on the mind. In addition to inscription as metaphor, however, I have also sought to attend to the complex interrelation between oral and written forms of remembering. I have thus noted the striking persistence of oral modes of remembrance, so that throughout medieval and early-modern culture the book was an aid to recollection rather than its replacement. I have, in addition, sought to emphasize that autobiography constitutes an important art of memory, and the volume includes discussions of works by Augustine, Rousseau, Wordsworth, Proust, and Charlotte Delbo. As Derrida indicates, however, there is a discernible discrimination at work in the relation between memory and writing, so that the issue of who gets to write in the first place, and who is then subsequently absorbed into the archive, is profoundly marked by gender, as well as by class and race. The second idiom of memory which I would like to briefly

draw to attention is the metaphor of spatiality. As Edward Casey has noted, there is a strong affiliation between memory and place, for place is ‘well suited to contain memories – to hold and preserve them’, while memory is itself ‘a place wherein the past can revive and survive’ (1987: 186). Again, the importance of place was registered early in the Western tradition. Cicero thus recounts the story of Simonides, who identified the bodies of those who had been killed at a banquet by remembering where they had been seated around the table. Cicero’s narrative provides a putative point of origin for the ‘art of memory’, a system of mnemonics that was influential from the classical to the early-modern period, and that used loci memoriae, memory places, in order to store remarkable amounts of information for future recall. The notion

of memory as a while Freud’s precisely how and where different memories are preserved. The intersection between memory and place can also be seen in mnemonic landscape, which assumed a fundamental role, as Raphael Samuel notes, in Western Christendom of the Middle Ages, which centred on a ‘far-flung network of pilgrim routes and landmarks … conveniently sited for commemorative worship’ (1994: viii). Something of the ‘commemorative worship’ of place can be discerned in the internalized Romantic landscapes of the mind, exemplified by Wordsworth’s ‘Tintern Abbey’, and it can also be felt in Proust’s evocations of his beloved childhood landscape of Combray. Perhaps the most notable contemporary equivalent is the hushed reverence with which we visit the sites of Holocaust memorialization, so that Europe is still marked by its network of ‘pilgrim routes and landmarks’, except that they now bear the names of Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Treblinka. The centrality of place to collective memory was highlighted by Halbwachs, who regarded the locations in which social groups gathered as crucial to the preservation of memory, and Pierre Nora who derived the phrase lieux de mémoire, ‘sites of memory’, from Frances Yates’ loci memoriae. Spatiality, then, is crucial to the activity of remembering, and seems as important as temporality to both its conceptualization and its practice. The final trope of memory on which I propose to focus is ‘body

memory’. Although the body has been central to Western conceptions of memory, it has routinely been subordinated to consciousness and thereby overlooked. Casey observes that ‘the rooting of the word “memory” in memor (mindful) and ultimately of “remembering”, “reminding”, and “reminiscing” in mens (mind)’ indicate the bias towards mental processes of remembering in the very etymology of the language that we use (1987: 258). However, Mary Warnock rightly notes that ‘memory and the state of the body, and especially of the brain, are … closely linked’ (1987: 2). Aristotle was the first to note the physical basis of remembering, which had been overlooked by Plato, and his emphasis on the importance of the visual image resulted in a similar stress on visualization in the ‘art of memory’. Wordsworth’s poetry

continued to place visual in the documents a detailed comparison between the landscape that the speaker sees in the present and the remembered landscape that he saw five years previously. For Proust, however, memory’s sensual basis lies elsewhere; his famous involuntary memory sequences respond to the senses of taste, touch, hearing, and smell, but notably not to sight. Charlotte Delbo’s description of the traumatic memory of Auschwitz likewise focuses on taste and smell in preference to the visual. The role of the physical in remembering comprises one form of ‘body memory’, but Bergson also alerts us to the importance of habit, which comprises the body’s own form or mode of remembrance. As Edward Craig has pointed out, amnesia provides a dramatic demonstration of the efficacy of habit, in exposing ‘the difference between memory as retention of language and skills, and memory as the power to recollect and to recognize specific things’ (1998: 296). In amnesia, then, we lose our recall of facts but retain our general power of retention. Although Bergson himself regarded habit memory with some disparagement, I argue in Chapter 4 that it subsequently became important in theories of collective memory for conceptualizing commemorative rituals and practices. I also highlight, finally, another form of ‘body memory’, with which Bergson’s contemporary Freud was intensely concerned, namely traumatic memory. From Freud’s analysis of hysterical symptoms to the intensely physical memories of Auschwitz described by Delbo, it is evident that the body plays an important, if still contested, role in traumatic forms of remembering. In tracing memory from antiquity to modernity, the present

volume moves between philosophical and literary texts. I regard both discursive modes as important to the theorization of memory, and seek to demonstrate that memory’s history is as firmly embedded in Augustine, Wordsworth, and Proust as in Plato, Freud, or Bergson. Indeed, rich and suggestive areas of dialogue can be discerned between the literary and the philosophical as, for example, between Hume and Wordsworth, or between Bergson and Proust. It is, however, notable that across both discursive fields the predominant voices of memory are male. Anna Reading has noted

that, although in represented by these female icons were far from ‘indicative of the value of women and men or the authority given to their articulations of the past’ (2002: 8). Likewise, in Plato’s conjecture that recollection revived knowledge acquired in a life before birth, the role of women, those responsible for bringing the child into the world and giving it foundational knowledge, was elided (Craig 1998: 296-7). Marianne Hirsch and Valerie Smith have recently suggested that this is one area of memory discourse that has remained consistent over time. ‘What a culture remembers and what it chooses to forget’, they argue, ‘are intricately bound up with issues of power and hegemony, and thus with gender’ (2002: 6). Public media and official archives memorialize the experiences of the powerful and it has therefore been necessary to turn to alternative archives, such as the oral testimony archives noted above, to hear the voices of women and other disenfranchised groups. A number of recent publications have aimed at opening up the question of memory and gender (see, for example, Sturken 1997; Haaken 1998; Kuhn 2002; Reading 2002; Leydersdorff et al. 2005; and Chedgzoy 2007). However, as Reading reflects, none of the recent memory classics, including Halbwachs’ The Collective Memory, Nora’s Realms of Memory, or Young’s Texture of Memory, have ‘address[ed] gender issues’ (2002: 15). In reading this volume, it is therefore necessary to remain attentive to who is doing the writing, and whose remembering has been absorbed into the canon. This makes evident the relative degrees of power and powerlessness, privilege, and disenfranchisement that have shaped dominant memory discourse. The preceding paragraph makes clear that a history of memory

is also necessarily a history of forgetting. For the early Greeks, as Edward Casey remarks, remembering and forgetting were intimately intertwined: ‘they [were] given explicit mythical representation in the coeval figures of Lemosyne and Mnemosyne, who are conceived as equals requiring each other’ (1987: 12; original emphasis). This volume traces, then, a parallel history of the concept of forgetting, which can also be seen to shift in meaning and significance across different historical periods. In the classical

‘art of memory’, getting registered theorized in and of itself, it marked a point of failure or breakdown, whether in the psychic apparatus or in the image of the object to be remembered. For the Enlightenment philosophers, for whom memory was coeval with the self, forgetting in the form of amnesia or periods of unconsciousness such as sleep, troubled their conceptions and became a point of obsessive return. It was with the nineteenth-century ‘crisis of memory’, however, that forgetting took on its own significance. For Freud, forgetting was conceived as a blocked or overcathected memory, while for Proust a period of forgetting necessarily preceded the miraculous resurrection of involuntary remembrance. Harald Weinrich registers this crucial shift through a semantic discussion of the Greek word aletheia, ‘truth’. He observes that the word combines the negative prefix ‘a-’ with the component ‘-leth’, which also occurs in the name of Lethe, the river of forgetting. From this, he argues, ‘one can … conceive truth as the “unforgotten” or the “not-to-be-forgotten”’. Weinrich’s analysis accords with the value placed on remembering over forgetting in earlier Western thought. However, as Weinrich goes on to acknowledge, in modern times we have ‘grant[ed] forgetting a certain truth as well’ (2004: 4). The present volume concludes, then, by assessing the contemporary significance of forgetting. I argue that, in the context of the collective, a degree of forgetting is as important as remembering for allowing the community to function in the aftermath of social and historical catastrophes. Although this volume is titled Memory, I am therefore also increasingly preoccupied with the question of forgetting. This concept not only forms the shadowy underside of memory but, more precisely, shapes and defines the very contours of what is recalled and preserved; what is transmitted as remembrance from one generation to the next; and what is thereby handed down to us, in our turn, to cherish or discard, but above all to reflect critically upon.