21th Bath House Readings

Event header
21th Bath House Readings
5-6 of April 2013, 11:00 - 19:00
"Memorial" International Society, 5/10 Karetny Ryad Street

Vernacular Memorization of Traumatic Experience

In 2013, the Bath House Readings series continues New Literary Observer's multi-year research project devoted to seeking multidisciplinary approaches to the study of human history and the transformations of modern societies. As part of this project we have become interested in topics connected with the anthropologization of the humanities, a trend that places individuals at the center of research. Subjects include the anthropology of closed societies and revolutionary upheavals, and cultural mechanisms for constructing identity in diasporas. The subject of the present conference develops the theme of a special edition of our journal, "The Semiotics of August in the 20th Century: The Transformation of Individual Lives in an Age of Social Cataclysms," and also echoes work by Aleida Assmann, Jan Assmann, Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, Catherine Merridale, Shoshana Felman, Cathy Caruth and other researchers.

Traumatic experiences caused by rapid and unexpected social changes (wars, migrations, repressions, humanitarian catastrophes) and the particular structure of a society have a definitive effect on peoples' lives, form their identity, change the structure of their memory of the past, and influence their future. These experiences destroy or deform life's habitual order for individuals and collectives, and their consequences have a far-reaching effect on everyday life. Official memory of traumatic experience is a frequent subject of research (for instance in works on the history of Stalinism), but unofficial memory has only been explored in a fragmentary way. Of particular interest in this area are reflections of traumatic memory in forms that have the least to do with "official" discourse – diaries, letters, unofficial culture, family traditions, oral history, popular culture, the culture of everyday life, and so on.

In what way is memory of traumatic experience constructed? What are its forms? In what genres (particularly unofficial ones) is it manifested?

Events tabs