CfP: All things considered… material culture and memory

All things considered… material culture and memory’

University College Cork, 09-10 November 2018

School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures Conference

Cork, Ireland


Objects have always been considered in relation to their economic value and/or purpose; if one of these two is missing they are meaningless, they are just things. Things hold no value in their markets; they are ‘obstinately solitary, superficial and self-evident’ (Lamb, The Things Things Say, 2011). Yet things can still fulfil functions in our daily lives; they hold symbolic potential, from personal memory triggers, to focal points of public ritual and religion; from collectors’ obsession, to symbols of loss, displacement and violence. They are passed down through generations and travel around the world. They embody individual and familiar memories but by carrying within them the moment and place of their production, they also epitomize collective memory. Museums seek to protect some of these items, to save them from time, while others are lost, abandoned and disposed of. Still, they remain, stubbornly, in human memory, suggesting an intrinsic and enduring connection between material culture and memory.  Indeed, all objects, but also all things, collect, preserve and bequeath memories; memories of journeys through time and space, memories of their possessors’ lives, memories of the society that produced them.

As Bill Brown wonders in Thing Theory, ‘What habits have prevented us – prevented you – from thinking about objects, let alone things? Or, more precisely, perhaps: what habits have prevented you from sharing your thoughts?’ The aim of the conference ‘All things considered… material culture and memory’ is therefore to interrogate the material world, in particular the relationship between things and memory. We intend to bring scholars from different disciplines and theoretical backgrounds together with museum professionals and artists to initiate conversations, explore unexpected cross-disciplinary connections and envisage future collaborations. In addition to the interactions between memory and the material world, we welcome proposals that look at the ways in which material culture interacts with literature and visual arts. They might also draw on one or more of the following themes:

  • The value of things
  • Disposable things
  • Museums and material culture
  • Literature and material culture
  • Material culture and migration
  • Objects of displacement and/or displaced objects
  • Mass production and branding
  • The image and the object, photography
  • Objects of desire, objects of religion, figurines and fetishes

Proposals for panels, workshops and interactive sessions are also welcomed. Please send a 200-300 word abstract of your proposed intervention including contact details and a brief bio to

A selection of the papers presented at this conference will form the basis of an edited volume.

Deadline for submission: 01 June 2018


Event organisers:

Dr Chiara Giuliani (Department of Italian)

Dr Kate Hodgson (Department of French)

CASiLaC Research Cluster on Memory, Commemoration and Uses of the Past

unsplash-logoAnnie Spratt