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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Experiencing the Future: Time, Consciousness and Memory


6 November 2010

PG20, Pemberton Building, Palace Green

This workshop will see research by literary critics, psychologists and philosophers address the ways in which the future is 'experienced' in the present and our future experiences are shaped by the memory of our past. Past experience shapes behaviour and future expectations, and anticipation and imagining of the future are governed by memory.   The creation of narrative selves and memory as an act of volition are a shared research interest; also shared is a concern with memory, especially childhood memory, and its relationship to the future in psychological, philosophical and literary discourses; as well as episodic memory, bodily memory, emotional memory, writing as memory, life history, and nostalgia. The predication of a future self is reliant on memory; to imagine the future is to place one's self in time.  This workshop seeks to map a path from memory and experience to the future and future possibility.    

The outcomes of this workshop will seek to renovate the paradigms for literary critical work on memory and time using interdisciplinary perspectives drawn from current work in psychology and philosophy.  In turn, the psychological study of memory as act of self-narrativising will draw on understandings of narrative from research into imaginative literature, and from metaphysics and phenomenology.  This workshop will build on the success of past IAS-sponsored programmes of work, including the Thinking with Feeling workshops, Figuring the Human public lecture series and The Evolution of Literature conference.   It will feed into work on a range of subjects, from mental 'time-travelling', to the treatment of depression, to autobiographical writing.

Speakers at the workshop include:

  • Professor Dan Hutto (University of Hertfordshire);
  • Professor Jonathan Lowe (Durham University);
  • Professor Patricia Waugh (Durham University).

The workshop will conclude with a reading from prize-winning poet and writer Ruth Padel.

The workshop is free to attend and open to all.  For further information and to register please contact Dr Simon James.