Memory is the most powerful yet fragile of human faculties. Around its mysteries, we weave our deepest sense of self and community, making it, as Cicero wrote, the “treasury and guardian of all things.” We fill our private spaces and public squares with its icons: photographs and monuments, locks of hair and historical markers, dried flowers and weed-wracked cemeteries. We know, however, that memory can be flawed, that it’s fashioned not just by fact, but by trauma and triumph, by emotion and prejudice, and most often, by the need to fashion a compelling story about ourselves. Salman Rushdie describes it as a “way of telling you what’s important to you,” or what Oscar Wilde calls “the diary that we all carry about with us.”
Like all human things, memory is full of contradictions that bedevil and beguile us. We fear losing our memory, and yet forgetting can be a strange virtue—a relief from the sometimes irresolvable conflicts of the past. Still, we work hard to recover that which has been forgotten. Truth and reconciliation committees both here in Tulsa and around the world have sought to preserve the memory of trauma, even while attempting to constrain the damage it might do. “Never forget,” we intone, though Rita Mae Brown has argued that “one of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.” How do we strike this balance between remembering and forgetting? What happens when memories fail to align with one another or when they’re built around acts of violence? What do we owe to the past—and what does it owe to us? What role do monuments and other kinds of commemoration play in the creation and dislocation of community? How has technology changed our understanding of memory and what happens when memory appears to fail, either as a consequence of age or disease or when confronted by some stubborn fact that contradicts it? These are just some of the questions the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities will attempt to address throughout the 2018-19 academic year by focusing on the theme of memory.
In order to support this work, the OCH invites public applications to the Interdisciplinary Humanities Seminar focused on the topic of Memory. The seminar will convene once a week through the fall 2018 semester and will build on the expertise of each participant to launch an intensive investigation of memory, assisted by visiting speakers, artists, and performers. In the spring, participants will share their work with the larger community through talks, performances, colloquia, and other events. The Center welcomes a broad interpretation of the theme that will carry our investigations across intellectual, political, experimental, and artistic domains. Anyone interested in the topic is welcome to apply. For more information visit www.humanities.utulsa.edu.
Application for the 2018-2019 Humanities Research Seminar
Description: The Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Seminar sponsored by the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities at the University of Tulsa is intended to promote engaged, intellectual discussion on topics of current public and intellectual interest. Every year, a group of approximately eight Research Fellows will be chosen to collaborate on a series of weekly seminar discussions. It is hoped that these discussions will then lead into further projects, undertaken collectively or individually. These might include digital projects, performances, creative works, or activities designed to spur civic action and service. The admissions committee will judge applications based on an assessment of the proposal’s interdisciplinary appeal and its potential for sparking dialogue.
Eligibility: Anyone whose public, private, or professional interests would benefit from involvement in the seminar is eligible to apply. Finalists will be asked to participate in a short interview with a member of the Center’s staff. Fellows will be eligible to receive a small stipend to defray any direct costs associated with their participation.
Requirements: The seminar will convene for three hours each week at the University of Tulsa from August 26st to December 6th, 2018. Fellows are expected to participate in all seminar sessions and to present some aspect of their work at an appropriate public forum in the spring of 2019.
Theme: The theme for the 2018-2019 seminar will be Memory. You are encouraged to interpret this topic broadly and in ways that are appropriate to your own fields of interest or expertise.
Application: Applications for participation in the seminar should include the following:
- A resume or CV, including contact information,
- A brief letter of reference,
- Full responses to the three application questions listed below.
Applications should be sent by electronic attachment to: firstname.lastname@example.org
APPLICATION DEADLINE: May 1, 2018
Please direct any questions to Sean Latham (email@example.com//x2857)
Application Questions (no more than 1,500 words total):
- Why does the topic of memory interest you and how does it connect your civic, professional, intellectual, personal, or artistic interests?
- How would participation in this seminar contribute to your own work or interests? What kind of project do see coming out of your participation in the seminar?
- What are some of the key works (books, images, performances, films, articles, etc.) that you believe raise important issues in regard to memory. Please simply list 10-12 items.