In the lecture 'Homer' – a History of Relational Memory, Professor Astrid Erll (Goethe University, Frankfurt) will go back in time and show how, ever since the archaic age, ‘Homer’ has been the product of a type of memory that she calls ‘relational’. It is the product of connectivity and exchange among individuals and groups, of relations that work across time and space. All those interested are warmly invited to attend!
This lecture emerges from a current project (an “Opus Magnum”) funded by Volkswagen Foundation and titled Odyssean Travels: A Literary History of Modern Memory. The project seeks to advance literary and historical memory studies. It focuses on translations, rewritings, and remediations of the Odyssey since the 18th century as well as on discussions of ‘Homer’ as cultural heritage in order to get a deeper sense of the logic of ‘modern memory’.
The Homeric epics are often cast as the ‘first memory’ or the heritage ‘of Europe’ or ‘of the Western World’. This is what they are clearly not. They are the outcome of transcultural processes that go back at least to the 2nd millennium BCE and that involve what we see today as Europe as well as Asia and North Africa. The epics could only survive across time, because of the joint efforts of scholars in Alexandria, in the Byzantine Empire and in medieval Italy.
A short history of relational memory
Today, Homer’s epics are remediated (and thus ‘kept alive’ as contents of cultural memory) in diverse places across the globe, notably in the Caribbean and increasingly in the Arab world. By following the fascinating case of how the Homeric epics have ‘travelled’ across the centuries to our present, this lecture will tell a ‘short history of relational memory’.
About the speaker:
Astrid Erll is Professor of Anglophone Literatures and Cultures at Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main. She has worked on memories of the First World War, the Spanish Civil War, British colonialism in India and the Vietnam war. She is general editor of the book series Media and Cultural Memory (de Gruyter, since 2004), co-editor of A Companion to Cultural Memory Studies (with A. Nünning, 2010), Mediation, Remediation, and the Dynamics of Cultural Memory (with A. Rigney, 2009), and Audiovisual Memory and the (Re)Making of Europe (with A. Rigney, 2017). She is author of Memory in Culture (Palgrave 2011)/ Kollektives Gedächtnis und Erinnerungskulturen (2005, 3rd ed. 2017), a widely used introduction to memory studies. She is part of the editorial board of the journal Memory Studies (SAGE) and the book series Memory Studies (Palgrave).