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IMC 2018: Sessions

Session 699: Keynote Lecture 2018: Historical Present: Fake History, Material Culture, and Collective Misremembering (Language: English)

Tuesday 3 July 2018, 13.00-14.00

Introductions:Lucie Doležalová, Faculty of Humanities
Jan Čermák, Department of English, Univerzita Karlova, Praha
Speaker:Alixe Bovey, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London

We live in history, scurrying along streets with ancient names, past old buildings and historic landmarks, through protected landscapes, amidst plaques and statuary memorialising achievement and catastrophe. While the commemoration industry is focused on events that actually happened in the past - births, deaths, discoveries, battles, calamities - an important dimension of cultural memory concerns larger truths about origins and identities with a much looser connection to 'the facts of history'. The central example in this lecture is the complex legacy of the opening of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia regum Britanniae, which describes how Trojan refugees exterminated Albion's indigenous giants and founded the British nation. How and why have material things (manuscript illuminations, printed books, turf-cut chalk drawings, elaborate costumes, immense figures in papier-mâché, oak, wicker, and even latex) preserved and embellished the memory of this foundation myth, alongside centuries of destruction, ridicule, indifference, and misunderstanding? Memory loss, confusion, and destruction are, it will be argued, essential pretexts for invention and survival, and underpin the dynamic interaction between material things, mythic history, and cultural memory.

Please note that admission to this event will be on a first-come, first-served basis as there will be no tickets. Please ensure that you arrive as early as possible to avoid disappointment.