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Memory Translation and Civil Wars

‘Memory Translation’ in Recent Anglophone Novels: Narrating Civil Wars to Distant Audiences (PhD Project; Maria Elisabeth Dorr)

This project is interested in recent anglophone ‘memory novels’ that are concerned with civil war experiences of conflicts that erupted between the end of the Second World War and today. These novels are presently widely popular amongst readerships that are situated outside of those cultural, geographical and social contexts that gave rise to the production of the narratives and/or those contexts that they (are understood to) represent. The principal question that this ‘distant reception’ of such memory novels brings up is that of the possibilities, limits, and implications of a transcultural transmission of memory. On the one hand, the basic observation that all remembrance has an inherently social component means that memory can be shared in principle, which means that memory can travel from one context to another. On the other hand, the prominent theories of the field of memory studies have put forward the assumption that memory artifacts are produced and consumed because they relate to the collective identities of their respective contexts. This project looks at civil war novels as ‘travelling memory media’ from a reception-oriented point of view that is informed by postclassical narratologies, and discusses recent concepts of transcultural memory such as cosmopolitan memory, multidirectional memory, and prosthetic memory.