Interdisciplinary discussion group

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University of London Sciences and the Arts Interdisciplinary Discussion Group

Monday 9th May, 5-7pm
Topic: Memory
Location: GFSB2, Room 2, Ground Floor, Strand Building, King’s College London

Provisional Programme

Each speaker will present for 20 minutes, which will be followed by one hour’s general discussion amongst the speakers and the group.  We will cover the issues raised in the presentations and issues surrounding memory in sciences and arts and their relationship more generally.

Professor John Morton, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL.

Professor Morton is widely recognised for his work on memory, and on the modelling of cognitive processes and developmental disorders.  From 1982 to 1998 he was the Director of the MRC Cognitive Development Unit.  He was also Chair of the British Psychological Society Working Party on Recovered Memories.  He will talk to us about his work on the role of memory in dissociative-identity disorder (DID).

Suggested reading: Daniel L. Schacter, “Searching for Memory: the Brain, the Mind, and the Past” (New York: Basic Books, 1996).  Chapter 8, “Islands in the Fog: Psychogenic Amnesia” (pp. 218-247).  Two-thirds of this chapter is viewable on google books.  To find it, search for the phrase “fog psychogenic”.

Further reading: J. Morton, “Cognitive Pathologies of Memory: A Headed Records Analysis”.  In W. Kessen, A. Ortony, & F. Craik (eds.), “Memories, Thoughts, and Emotions: Essays in Honor of George Mandler” (pp. 199-210) (Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1991).

Joanne Bristol, The Bartlett, Faculty of the Built Environment, UCL

Joanne will begin by presenting a 5-minute performance titled Association for Imaginary Architecture. She describes this work as, “a performance involving architectural design, narration and touch. The performance involves a one-on-one exchange between myself and audience members. I ask individuals to verbally describe an architectural space they have experienced. As the space is described I draw a ‘plan’ of it on the speaker’s back with my hands. My intention is to offer dialogical spaces regarding relationships between architecture, memory, imagination, translation, inscription and the body.”

Following the performance, she will present excerpts from her paper ‘back words spaces’ which locates ways that Association for Imaginary Architecture might offer insights into how built worlds are imagined and internalized. The paper focuses on the performance’s use of vocalization and touch to remember ‘old’ space while also creating ‘new’ space. The paper also touches on literary theorist David Wills’ concept of ‘dorsality’ to address the physical space of the human back, as well as the space and performance of memory.

Suggested reading: David Wills, Dorsality: Thinking Back through Technology and Politics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008). Chapter 1, “The Dorsal Turn” (pp.2-20). This chapter is viewable on google books. To find it, search for the phrase “the arguments mobilized here”. Here Wills is theorising ‘dorsality’ in relation to concepts of the body, technology, progress, and memory.

Daniel Friesner, Explainer Unit, The Science Museum.

Daniel did his PhD at King’s College London, on philosophical issues in developmental psychology.  For the last few years he has co-organised a reading group on the relations between science and literature.  He will talk about some literary aspects of Luria’s famous case-history, “The Mind of a Mnemonist”.

Suggested reading: Alexander R. Luria, The Mind of a Mnemonist, translated from the Russian by Lynn Solotaroff (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1968, 1987).

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