This guest blog post by Dr Heather Yeung is part of the AHRC Science in Culture Theme’s contributions to Universities Week 2014. Between 9-15 June 2014, universities across the UK are inviting everyone to be inspired, get involved and discover the work that they are doing to improve the way we live our lives.
Memory is an important foundation for the ways in which we think about the world and about ourselves. Memory impacts our day-to-day decisions and our longer-term existence in ways we often don’t notice. The Memory Network brings people together to think about memory in the twenty-first century. We ask questions such as:
How do new technologies impact the way we interact with other people? Do Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram mean that we shape different memories of ourselves than we would have in an analogue age?
Does having Google search at our fingertips on our smartphones mean that our capacity to remember has become redundant?
How can new sciences, such as neuroscience, help us to understand the way memory works, and what are their limitations?
What roles can literature and music play alongside scientific and medical research to work towards understanding and alleviation of the consequences of dementia, schizophrenia, and other conditions that affect the way we think about and remember things?
How does the way memory functions in the twenty-first century change the way that we think about ourselves? Does this change the sort of art and writing we produce?
As we are increasingly immersed in contemporary technologies, and as scientific and humanist thought progresses and shifts, our memory reshapes our sense of self in irrevocable ways. This leads to changes in thinking about memory across the arts, humanities, and sciences in academia and industry.
The transformative and dynamic potential of memory, consciousness, and cognition provide an important and on-going subject of enquiry in the arts and the sciences. The Memory Network seeks to explore, map, generate, and promote emerging ideas about memory, aiming to foster a profound and sustained engagement with these emerging models of memory. We look at the ways in which these new models of memory might generate or illuminate both scientific and literary production, and how they are changing the way we operate.
We have performed neuroscientific experiments with author Will Self and others to investigate the different ways, different people navigate London; we’ve brought together perfumers, taste-testers, literary scholars, and philosophers to talk about the way taste and smell can provoke important recollections. Members of the Memory Network have hosted events at the Cheltenham and Durham literary festivals, and at the Story Museum in Oxford.
‘The Story of Memory’ is the Network’s upcoming major event, and comprises a one-day postgraduate conference, a two-day international conference, and a literary festival, and is taking place across London in September 2014.
The Memory Network is a multi-disciplinary enterprise that brings together researchers, writers, artists, and organisations to provoke and fuel original thinking about memory in the twenty-first century. It is led by the Universities of Roehampton and Durham and is funded by the AHRC, with support from the Wellcome Trust.