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Memories, Marks and Imprints

Mémoire, traces et empreintes

Memoria, huellas y marcas

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Published on Monday, February 13, 2017 by Céline Guilleux


The various literary, sociological, philosophical or artistic forms of expression of memory in Anglo-Saxon and Hispanic cultures will be the object of interest of this conference, whether they are collective, familial or individual.


Centre d’études sur les littératures étrangères et comparées EA 3069 – Université Jean Monnet, Saint-Etienne, France, International and interdisciplinary conference “Memories, Marks and Imprints” November 20-21, 2017 Université Jean Monnet, Saint- Etienne, France


Memory as the faculty to keep and recall past states of consciousness and what is associated with them cannot be distinguished from the numerous forms adopted by its expression. If, at first, “marks” and “imprints” can be perceived as synonymous, their interconnections are more subtle and complex. Marks and imprints seem to involve the body rather than the intellect, on the other hand, memories seem more intangible and pertain to a more intellectual sphere. Nevertheless, they rely on the individual’s capacity to register impressions related to the body, in a manner which is more or less perfect or flawed. Despite the enmity between memory and writing pointed out by Plato’s Phaedrus, memory cannot be dissociated from the writing process with its deletions, erasures, drafting and re-writing, which are so many marks of it. Marks are far less formal than prints since marks are almost always linked to some sort of injury, abduction, aggression, which is not the case for imprints which rely on the input of material (Jacques Clauzel) . This material aspect of things requires that we should consider the very nature of marks and prints: is the memory act accidental (outbreak memory) or is it the result of a remembering effort (reconstructing memory)? In both cases, we shall consider the relationship between the three terms from the standpoint of omission, oblivion or, on the contrary, comprehensiveness. If, in both cases (marks and imprints), the body is involved, memory and its relationship with injury and pain shall be considered: is the created work a remedy, a suture, or, on the contrary, a simple scar, a stigma of the painful past? In other words, what is the role of this mark or imprint? Imprints, which are related to impression, also lead us to think of the links between perception and sensation as memory –whether individual or collective, whether the result of an outbreak or a reconstruction– is a form of impressionistic perception: it works, like impressionism, by association of ideas and selection. Memory mixes sensations and images linked by similarities and closeness, thus a memory calls forth another one, like a dot, in an impressionist painting, which cannot be read independently.

One of the goals of this conference will be to reconsider the link between memory and its various ways of being expressed: memory particularly expresses itself in introspective and intimate works like memoirs, an in-between literary genre at the crossroads of annals, diary, autobiography, which will need to be redefined. But fiction can also convey memory when it tries to evoke significant historical events. The writer’s task is then to pay tribute, to make a memorial, to leave marks for those unable to do it or to leave traces of previous texts or works. In this respect, presentations on the contemporary use of canonical works, the way some texts recall other texts, and any other forms of intertextuality, will be welcome.

Lastly, another aspect could be considered; the link between memory and space, since collective memory necessarily involves a spatial frame (Halbwachs). Thus, the artistic monument, whether literary or real, might be studied, together with the links between architecture and text. No matter what its nature is, the memorial work is supposed to build and perpetuate a memory –maybe one’s own first– if we assume that famous works by great writers are more enduring monuments than marble ones. In that respect, marks and monuments are different since the formers are the result of a distortion, a rupture, a deposit that can always be erased, whereas the latter assert their presence massively and materially; marks pertain to unintended residues Jean-Luc Martine says , which is not the case of monuments as they freeze presence in a sort of eternity. It will then be necessary to go beyond the monuments/marks dichotomy to see how memory is embodied in certain specific places (like mausoleums, epitaphs, funerary monuments, historical conservation sites, any type of monument designed to pay tribute to certain events, social groups or memorable figures).

The various literary, sociological, philosophical or artistic forms of expression of memory in Anglo-Saxon and Hispanic cultures will be the object of interest of this conference, whether they are collective, familial or individual.

Submission guidelines

Presentations will be in English, Spanish or French.

Abstract (about 300 words) and short autobiographical notices should be sent by May 31st 2017 to:

  • Elisabeth Bouzonviller (elisabeth.bouzonviller@univ-st-etienne.fr)
  • Floriane Reviron-Piégay (floriane.reviron.piegay@univ-st-etienne.fr)
  • Emmanuelle Souvignet (emmanuelle.souvignet@univ-st-etienne.fr)

Scientific committee

  • Elisabeth Bouzonviller
  • Floriane Reviron-Piégay
  • Emmanuelle Souvignet


  • Université de Saint-Etienne campus Tréfilerie
    Saint-Étienne, France (42)


  • Wednesday, May 31, 2017


  • mémoire, culture, littérature étrangère, littérature comparée


  • Elisabeth Bouzonviller
    courriel : elisabeth [dot] bouzonviller [at] univ-st-etienne [dot] fr
  • Floriane Reviron Piegay
    courriel : floriane [dot] reviron [dot] piegay [at] univ-st-etienne [dot] fr
  • Emmanuelle Souvignet
    courriel : emmanuelle [dot] souvignet [at] univ-st-etienne [dot] fr

Information source

  • Emmanuelle Perrin
    courriel : ihrim-seminaire-index [at] univ-st-etienne [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Memories, Marks and Imprints », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, February 13, 2017, https://calenda.org/392135

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