Jens Brockmeier, Beyond the Archive (Nov. 6, Paris)


(Université Paris Diderot/American University of Paris)


announces a round table discussion on Jens Brockmeier's


Beyond the Archive : Memory, Narrative,

and the Autobiographical Process

 Oxford University Press, 2015


in the presence of the author


on Friday 6 November 2015 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.


 Université Paris Diderot, UFR Lettres, arts, cinéma

5, rue Thomas Mann, 75013 Paris, escalier C, 6e étage, salle Pierre Albouy


The introduction will be in French and the round table in English.

The ensuing discussion will be in French and in English.


with the participation of

Ronan MacDubhghaill (director of Cacao Europa: Journal for Culture, Art, Creativity, Opinion),

Maria Medved (American University of Paris), Sylvie Patron (Université Paris Diderot),

John Pier (Université François-Rabelais de Tours/CRAL, CNRS-EHESS),

and Brian Schiff (American University of Paris)



Book abstract : Our longstanding view of memory and remembering is in the midst of a profound transformation. This transformation does not only affect our concept of memory or a particular idea of how we remember and forget; it is a wider cultural process. In order to understand it, one must step back and consider what is meant when we say memory. Brockmeier's far-ranging studies offer such a perspective, synthesizing understandings of remembering from the neurosciences, humanities, social studies, and in key works of autobiographical literature and life-writing. His conclusions force us to radically rethink our very notion of memory as an archive of the past, one that suggests the natural existence of a distinctive human capacity (or a set of neuronal systems) enabling us to "encode," "store," and "recall" past experiences. Now, propelled by new scientific insights and digital technologies, a new picture is emerging. It shows that there are many cultural forms of remembering and forgetting, embedded in a broad spectrum of human activities and artifacts. This picture is more complex than any notion of memory as storage of the past would allow. Indeed it comes with a number of alternatives to the archival memory, one of which Brockmeier describes as the narrative approach. The narrative approach not only permits us to explore the storied weave of our most personal form of remembering-that is, the autobiographical-it also sheds new light on the interrelations among memory, self, and culture. 


Bio : Professor Brockmeier received his degrees in psychology, philosophy, and linguistics/literary theory from the Free University Berlin where he also was awarded his Habilitation and took on his first appointment as assistant professor of epistemology and philosophy of science. Since then, he has held teaching and research appointments at the University of Toronto, The New School New York, and Linacre College Oxford, among others, before he joined the American University of Paris in January 2014. Brockmeier’s research is concerned with the cultural fabric of mind and language. A number of his research projects have been concerned with how language, as a form of life and central dimension of human development, works in specific social and applied settings. In particular, he has been investigating narrative as psychological, linguistic, and cultural form and practice. His main interest here is in the function of narrative for autobiographical memory, personal identity, and the understanding of time, issues he has explored both empirically and philosophically – empirically, in various languages and sociocultural contexts, as developmental phenomena, and under conditions of health and illness; philosophically, in terms of a narrative hermeneutics. Recent books include Beyond the Archive : Memory, Narrative, and the Autobiographical Process, Oxford & New York : Oxford Universtity Press, 2015); Cultura e narrazione [Culture and Narrative], (Milan : Mimesis, 2014) ; Beyond Loss: Dementia, Memory, and Identity (ed. with L.-C. Hyden and H. Lindemann Nelson, Oxford & New York : Oxford University Press, 2014); and the paperback edition of Literacy, Narrative and Culture (ed. with M. Wang and D. R. Olson, London : Routledge, 2014).

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ENN is the European Narratology Network, an association of individual narratologists and narratological institutions. ENN aims to foster the study of narrative representation in literature, film, digital media, etc. across all European languages and cultures.