Presenter Status

Graduate Student, English Department at Michigan State University

Presentation Type

Oral presentation

Session

Literature

Location

Buller Hall Room 108

Start Date

6-5-2016 9:00 AM

End Date

6-5-2016 9:20 AM

Presentation Abstract

In his seven-volume novel, In Search of Lost Time (1913-1927), Marcel Proust explores the depths and limitations of involuntary memory and argues that remembrance of the past is inherently altered and unreliable. Referred to by many scholars as Proustian Memory, this theory explicates both the revision that takes place in the act of remembering as well as the inherent fictionality of these recollections. Written, however, nearly two-hundred years earlier, Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy (1759-64) hints at some of the same claims regarding the reconstruction of the past through the act of remembering. Deeply concerned with how and to what extent the past can be recreated, Sterne’s novel not only illuminates how memories are altered, but it proposes that under certain environmental conditions, short-term memory is more susceptible to modification. Focusing specifically on the episodes concerning Slawkenbergius’ Tale and Susannah’s trouble recalling Tristram’s name, this paper investigates the role of working memory and personal bias in the process of recall, as well as explores how environmental factors such as emotional, informational, and influential overload contribute to the revision of past events.

Biographical Sketch

Kylene Cave is a Ph.D student in the English department at Michigan State University with particular interests in memory, theory of mind, and the function of testimony and memory in detective fiction.

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May 6th, 9:00 AM May 6th, 9:20 AM

If Somebody Knows About that Nose, It’s Not the Forgetful Maid: False Memory and the Environment of Recall in Tristram Shandy

Buller Hall Room 108

In his seven-volume novel, In Search of Lost Time (1913-1927), Marcel Proust explores the depths and limitations of involuntary memory and argues that remembrance of the past is inherently altered and unreliable. Referred to by many scholars as Proustian Memory, this theory explicates both the revision that takes place in the act of remembering as well as the inherent fictionality of these recollections. Written, however, nearly two-hundred years earlier, Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy (1759-64) hints at some of the same claims regarding the reconstruction of the past through the act of remembering. Deeply concerned with how and to what extent the past can be recreated, Sterne’s novel not only illuminates how memories are altered, but it proposes that under certain environmental conditions, short-term memory is more susceptible to modification. Focusing specifically on the episodes concerning Slawkenbergius’ Tale and Susannah’s trouble recalling Tristram’s name, this paper investigates the role of working memory and personal bias in the process of recall, as well as explores how environmental factors such as emotional, informational, and influential overload contribute to the revision of past events.