Workshops – Creating a memory of ancient pasts Choices, constructions and transmissions from the 9th to the 18th Century

October 13th and 14th 2022, Paris

The ERC Advanced Grant AGRELITA project will organize workshops entitled “Creating a memory of ancient pasts” on October 13th and 14th 2022, Paris.

Mnemosyne, mother of the Muses, embodies a continuing relationship between memory, arts and sciences. This myth invites us to question ourselves over a long period of time, as soon as we study the memory of ancient pasts – the Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Biblical ones, among other – in texts as well in images. By taking a transdisciplinary look at memory, from anthropology to visual studies including history, sociology, literature and cognitive sciences, we aim to explore the strategies of how a memory of ancient pasts is created, and to highlight the processes which contribute to the constitution of distant pasts as a legacy. Yet, this appropriation is not obvious : a logic of alterity does indeed appear, in several forms and to varying degrees, between the present and these/its ancient pasts, due to a lack of continuity, not only temporal, but also spatial, documentary or religious and cultural.

In fact, for many decades, research on memory remarkably developed in a wide range of disciplines. Concepts and approaches, such as individual memory and collective memory, cultural memory, social memory, memorials, how tangible and intangible memory are linked to each other, how memory and imagination interact, cognitive mechanisms which act in memory processes, have provided new keys to understand the forms and the uses of memory (-ies) within communities.

Our objective is thus to continue the reflection on these notions by analyzing the methods of the creation of a memory of the ancient pasts, according to a chronology which starts from the 9th Century, which was a period when creative activity was intense, ancient texts were rediscovered by Western Europe, but also when written memory increased, until the 18th Century, when Antiquity was particularly mobilized, as much in the arts, with the emergence of archeology and neoclassicism, as in political speeches. Through the collected papers, the workshops aim to question the constants as well as the mutations of the strategies that authors and artists displayed in order to elaborate this (these) memory(-ies) of ancient pasts, since they selected and organised elements of the past to the detriment of others, which implies a range of recompositions.

Submitted papers may deal with theoretical reflections or case studies, and come within one or more the following themes, which do not exhaust the range of possibilities :

– Epistemology and taxonomy of memory : cross-cutting reflections on the memory about the distant past, its functioning, the notions and concepts that must be mobilized.

– “Memory entrepreneurs”: all those who participate in the creation of the memory of ancient pasts through their roles and activities such as writers, humanists, sponsors, readers, antique dealers, artists, translators, publishers-booksellers, collectors, archaeologists, and so on.

– How this memory is developed, as well as the interactions of the conditions of such a development : how the text is set up into narrative and plot forms, images, recomposition as well as invention, re-uses, rewritings / palimpsests, quotations, imitations, emulations, mental and visual images, imagines agentes, and so on.

– How this memory is transfered, as well as the interactions of the conditions of such a transmission : oral, written, visual, tangible and symbolic communications, the challenges of each of these modes of transmission as well as their effects on the representation of ancient pasts, their links with the “ars memoriae”, the functions and uses of emotions.

– The elements making up this memory of ancient pasts : civilizations, periods, events, traditions, narratives, myths, figures, works and concepts resulting from the process of a selection, a transmission and a re-elaboration, and so on.

– The stakes and aims of this creation of a memory of ancient pasts : the contexts and discourses in which it is shaped and represented, the objectives which are followed (didactic, ethical, aesthetic, linguistic, political, economic, religious, patrimonial ones).

The papers will be published by Brepols publishers, in the “Research on Antiquity Receptions” series :

Travel and accommodation costs will be covered according to the terms of the University of Lille. Contact: Catherine Gaullier-Bougassas

For more information about the ERC Agrelita Project, please see our academic Blog :
Please submit a short abstract (title and a few lines of presentation) to by February 15, 2022.

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