Centre for Studies in Memory and Literature


Centre for Studies in Memory and Literature

a) Research – collaboration, conferences, grant applications
b) Teaching – facilitating teachers’ exchanges, seminars, doctoral programmes
c) Publishing – Exhibitions

The Centre for Studies in Memory and Literature will provide a framework for researchers from various countries and different disciplines to engage in individual and collaborative research into various aspects of memory in literature and culture. Interest in memory studies has grown considerably in recent times, especially within the social sciences, history and, increasingly, literary studies. The field is therefore highly interdisciplinary and a crucial area of interest in literary studies and theory that offers fruitful avenues of research for scholars and students. The aim of the centre is to engage in literary research first and foremost, focussing on five interrelated areas identified below, which reflect the expertise and research interests of its members, as well as attractive points of interest for graduate students. The centre will bring together experienced practitioners in the field while also attracting new ones, encouraging fruitful collaboration between academics, as well as giving support to PhD students interested in the field. The Centre was founded by several international scholars who organised and/or participated in the conference Cultural Representations of Trauma at the University of Iceland in Autumn 2012.

IABA World Conference 2024

The IABA  (International Auto/Biography Association) World Conference 2024 will be held at the University of Iceland in collaboration with the Centre for Studies in Memory and Literature 12-15 June 2024. The theme of the conference is ‘Fragmented Lives.’ We invite proposals for individual papers or panels of 3-4 papers as well as round-table suggestions on that theme.

Please see our dedicated site for more information


  • Dr Jón Karl Helgason (University of Iceland)
  • Dr Ólafur Rastrick (University of Iceland)
  • Dr Valur Ingimundarson (University of Iceland)
  • Dr Irma Erlingsdóttir (University of Iceland)
  • Dr Alexander Dessingue (University of Stavanger)
  • Dr Claire Boyle (University of Edinburgh)
  • Professor Susannah Radstone (University of South Australia)
  • Dr Meg Jensen (Kingston University)
  • Dr Fiounnala Dillane (University College Dublin)
  • Professor Gerardine Meany (University College Dublin)
  • Dr Paco Ferrandiz (Spanish National Research Council, Madrid)

  1. Traumatic Memory – War Memory
    Investigation into the cultural representations of trauma — social and individual —in relation to societal upheavals such as war. The aim is to examine literature, art and other forms of cultural production that articulate and address traumatic experience. In understanding the role of cultural representations in the wider debate on memory and forgetting (especially collective memory), and history and memory, the Centre will better be able to intervene in, and contribute to, such public debates. 
  2. Memory in Life Writing
    Research into the role of memory in life writing, its various representations in autobiographical texts, its relation to narrative identity, and its influence on the writing of the self. Autobiography is the genre of memory and one of the ways in which we can identify and interrogate the relationship between identity, self, narrative and memory, which can shed light on our understanding of memory in writing and how it contributes to the public sphere. And yet autobiography, as a genre, has itself come under pressure from memory, leading to fruitful exchanges with other genres such as the novel. In addressing the issue of memory we also question the nature and role of contemporary literature.
  3. Memory in Culture
    Research on the varied representations of memory in culture, such as in public art, memorials, and the museum. This area would have a wider scope than the two themes above, so as to be able to include varied manifestations of memory in the wider culture, and could include investigation into different forms of media and their relationship to memory. This public dimension to memory and its physical manifestation, touches upon the ways in which a culture identifies itself and its relationship to the nation, and to a collective past. It looks at the pragmatics of cultural forms of memory: what objects are chosen, what sites are chosen and why?
  4. Memory and the Nation
    Examination of the role of collective memory in national identity and its various representations and expressions of that memory, is in many cases a highly contested area. National memory, or a nation’s historical memory, is one of the ways in which we think through the past and this type of memory impinges on the relationship between official national identity and a variety of memories that are based on class, gender, region, and political affiliation. Such divergent memories are sometimes in conflict, with each other, with official history, and offer a compelling insight into the critical importance of memory studies to the understanding of the politics of memory.
  5.  Memory and the Archive
    Investigation of the complex web of connections between memory and the archive. The aim is to explore the dynamics of the archive in our ideas of the past, its connection to memory and the discourses it has generated. We look at the processes involved in constructing archives, at what is selected and what is made available to the public. What forms of archive are privileged? What, for example, is the relationship between documents of state and popular memories storied on audio tape? To what extent do archives lead to differing accounts of the past and how are these archives given form within literature?

Resarch Projects

The Ireland-Iceland Memory Studies Network

The network fosters research on Irish and Icelandic issues with special emphasis on memory and memorialisation. Subject areas include the Middle Ages, Landscape, Heritage, Crisis, War, and Travel. The network has hosted two conference, one in Dublin in 2014 and one in Reykjavík in 2015. It will be working towards a publication of the research in the coming months.

In Search for Transcultural Memory in Europe (ISTME)

This COST action aims to go beyond the nationally oriented memory studies that tend to reify the bond between culture, nation and memory. Instead we investigate the transcultural dynamics of memory in Europe today. Studying how memories of the troubled twentieth century are transmitted and received across Europe, this COST Action explores the tension between attempts to create a common European memory, or a unitary memory ethics, on the one hand and numerous memory conflicts stemming from Europe’s fragmentation into countless memory communities on the other. Several members of the Centre for Studies in Memory and Literature are members of the action.

Past Events