Ars Memoriae – Memory Studies Reading Group (session 1)

Ars Memoriae – Memory Studies Reading Group: Session 1

In association with TORCH

Monday 22 January, 5:30-7pm

Seminar Room 2, Wolfson College, Linton Road

Free Event - please see reading list below

Open to Members of the University of Oxford only; aimed at graduate students and early career researchers.


This new student-led reading group is an opportunity for graduate students and early career researchers to join us to discuss all aspects of memory studies and life-writing, from the personal to the political, the local to the transnational, within disciplines and without, the ordinary to the extraordinary. Ars Memoriae aims to promote and generate awareness about the growing discipline of memory studies while also recognising the pressing need to synthesise memory studies scholarship with purposeful cultural analysis.

Inspired by the Latin phrase ars memoriae, ‘the art of memory,’ our fortnightly reading group seeks to interrogate memory in all its forms while placing literary texts at the core of our conversations. As memories and the process of memory-making are fundamental to human existence, entering a dialogue with memory will inevitably require us to engage with pertinent questions of history, politics, sociology, psychology, and so on. While thinking outside the box is an essential aspect of critical inquiry today, the happening realm of memory studies, via its focus on memory, asks us a crucial question: What is a box, and do we really need one?

With literary texts and interdisciplinary scholarship that foreground memory in their discourse as our scaffolds, we, as a reading group, will think, discuss, and interrogate memory in all its forms. Our aim is also to facilitate the creation of a space where everyone can reflect on the role and place of memory in their own research and how it connects with contemporary issues of the world around us.

Future sessions will take place on 5th February (week 4)19th February (week 6) and 4th March (week 8).


Reading List for Monday, January 22 (Session 1, week 2)


  • Ogawa, Yōko. The Memory Police. Translated by Stephen Snyder, Vintage, 2020.

Note: In Week 2, we will discuss Chapters 1—14.

  • Erll, Astrid. Memory in Culture. Translated by Sara B. Young, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

Note: We will discuss Chapters 1 & 2.

  • Hirsch, Marianne. “The Generation of Postmemory.” Poetics Today, vol. 29, no. 1, 2008, pp. 103–28,
  • Passerini, Luisa. “Memories Between Silence and Oblivion.” Contested Pasts: The Politics of Memory, edited by Katharine Hodgkin and Susannah Radstone, Routledge, 2003, pp. 238—254.


  • Salvador Dali, “The Persistence of Memory.”


These readings are available to view here.



Shivani Arulalan Pillai is a first-year DPhil Candidate in English at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford. Her research interrogates the role and place of memory in the ruins of Empires, an ongoing moment that can be understood as ‘post-Empire.’ The writers of specific interest are Rohinton Mistry and Orhan Pamuk, among several others.

Malavika P Pillai is a first-year DPhil Candidate in English at St Antony's College, University of Oxford. Her research interests include memory and postcolonial studies within the South Asian context. Delving into a curated array of both fictional and non-fictional works, her exploration is complemented by the incorporation of oral traditions and archival materials. Specifically, her research centres on unravelling the cosmopolitan fabric of cultural memories within various communities in Cochin, a port city in Southern India.

Smriti Verma is a first-year DPhil Candidate in English at Wolfson College, University of Oxford. Her research examines narrativity and form as a part of tangible feminist praxis in contemporary women's autofiction, specifically looking at Deborah Levy, Rachel Cusk and Doireann Ní Ghríofa.


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