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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - Memory, the Engine of Thought?

2nd November 2010, 17:15, The Birley Room, Hatfield College, Professor Mary Carruthers (New York University)

In the Middle Ages, memory was at the heart of culture - verbal, visual, and auditory. From the vantage point of our own world, with our dependence on printed books and electronic databases, the medieval art of memory is hard to conceive. It was esteemed as a great rational and creative power, in many ways the engine of invention and thought itself, key to our ability to conceive a future at all. Through a series of texts and pictures, this lecture will explore the rich territory of memory both as a concept and a learned technique.

Professor Mary Carruthers is a leading medievalist working on thought and memory. She works between New York University and All Souls College, Oxford and studies memory training and rhetorical practices of the Middle Ages. Her work has been fruitful to scholars in a number of other disciplines besides literature, including cultural history, comparative religion, the history of psychology and education, art and architecture history, and musicology. She has worked as well with professional 'memory artists,' film critics, and experimental psychologists. In 2005 she co-authored with a neuropsychologist a 'Comment' for the scientific journal Nature. Its subject was how human memory should be understood biologically to 'look two ways', to the past and to the future, an idea most appropriate to the theme chosen by the IAS for 2010-11. Professor Carruthers is currently an IAS Fellow, hosted by Hatfield College. For further information please visit: 

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