Konverents Private Lives, Intimate Readings, 11.-12. juunil 2013

Krista Ojasaar

Private Lives, Intimate Readings

11-12 June 2013

Estonian Literary Museum

Organized by Archives of Cultural History, Estonian Literary Museum and Institute of Cultural Research and Fine Arts, University of Tartu


Tuesday, June 11

10.00 – 10.30 Opening words. Leena Kurvet-Käosaar, Janika Kronberg

10.30 – 11.30 Jeremy Popkin (Department of History, University of Kentucky), Family Memoir and Self-Discovery

11.30 – 12.00 Coffee

12.00 – 12.30 Magda Stroińska & Vikki Cecchetto (Department of Linguistics & Languages, McMaster University), Autobiographical Writing as Historical Document: the Impact of Self-Censorship on Life Narratives

12.30 – 13.00 Tiina Kirss (Estonian Institute of Humanities, Tallinn University), The Great Flight West of 1944: Shifting Grounds of Personal Narratives of Estonian Exiles

13.00 – 13.30 Gernot Howanitz (Chair of Slavic Literatures and Cultures, Universityof Passau), Kommunalka 2.0: Soviet Notions of Privacy and Their Continuity on the Russian Internet

13.30 – 15.00 Lunch

15.00 – 15.30 Kirsi Keravuori (Research Department of the Finnish Literature Society), Looking Beyond Silences in 19th Century Family Correspondence

15.30 – 16.00 Leena Kurvet-Käosaar (Archives of Cultural History, Estonian Literary Museum; Institute of Cultural Research and Fine Arts, University of Tartu),”Letters, letters … they are merely a substitute”: 33 Years of Correspondence Across the Iron Curtain

16.00 – 16.30 Sandra Meškova (Daugavpils University), Letter as a Model of Communication in the Autobiographical Texts by Margita Gūtmane and Irina Pana

16.30 – 17.00 Coffee

17.00 – 18.00 Urmas Viik (Department of Graphic Art, Estonian Academy of Arts), The Diary of August Tamm

Wednesday, June 12

9.30 – 10.00 Katharina Alsen (International Graduate School “InterArt Studies”, Free University of Berlin), All Eyes on the Innermost: Stagings of Intimacy Around 1900

10.00 – 10.30 Sarah Herbe (Department of English and American Studies, University of Salzburg), Making the Private Public in Biographical Introductions to English Poetry Collections

10.30 – 11.00 Margus Lattik (Department of English, University of Tartu), Solace of the Earth: Mourning in Derek Walcott’s Poem “The Bounty”

11.00 – 11.30 Coffee

11.30 – 12.30 Paul Arthur (Centre for European Studies, Australian National University) When Online is a Lifeline

12.30 – 14.00 Lunch

14.00 – 14.30 Aigi Rahi-Tamm (Institute of History and Archeology, University of Tartu) , How to Read the NKVD Interrogation Transcripts of Personal Files: Source-Critical Aspects

14.30 – 15.00 Eve Annuk (Archives of Cultural History, Estonian Literary Museum), Reading the Deportation Files: the Political as Personal

15.00 – 15.30 Coffee                   

15.30 – 16.00 Vappu Kannas (Department of Modern Languages, University of Helsinki). From Private to  Public Diaries: Editing ofThe Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery

16.00 – 16.30 Marit Karelson (Institute of Germanic, Romance and Slavonic Languages and Literatures, University of Tartu), Europeanism: Towards Mind or Life? A Study of André Gide’s Fervor in Johannes Semper’s Diaries

16.30 – 17.00 Timur Guzairov (Institute of Germanic, Romance and Slavonic Languages and Literatures, University of Tartu), The Autobiographies of Disgraced Counts Woronzows: Multiple Loyalties and Subjective Self of Russian Noblemen

17.00 Closing words

Organization of the conference has been supported by Estonian Science Foundation grant “Dynamics of Address in Estonian Life Writing” (ETF9035) and the TU Professorship of National Studies, Estonian Literature.

Jeremy D. Popkin

Family Memoir and Self-Discovery

Tuseday, June 11, 10.30 – 11.30

The genre of “family memoir,” in which an author undertakes a reconstruction of some aspect of his or her family past, has become an increasingly prominent one in the past few decades.  The ostensible purpose of these narratives is usually to understand something about the author’s parents or, in some cases, of their more distant ancestors, but in the process, the author inevitably becomes involved in a process of self-narration and self-discovery.  In contrast to traditional autobiography, however, this process of self-discovery comes not so much from the exploration of the events of the author’s own life, but from the search for evidence concerning the lives of those intimate others, the author’s family members.  Although the genre is not a monopoly of Jewish authors, it is striking how many such texts have been written by authors from this group (Art Spiegelman, Maus; Daniel Mendelsohn, The Lost, Lydia Flem, Comment J’ai Vidé la Maison de mes Parents and Lettres d’Amour en Héritage; Nancy K. Miller, What They Saved; Alexander Stille, The Force of Things); in most cases, these intimate memoirs have a direct connection to the Shoah and posit the importance of intimate life-writing in the understanding of this most public and impersonal event.

Jeremy D. Popkin is the T. Marshall Hahn, Jr. professor of history at the University of Kentucky (Lexington, Kentucky USA).  In addition to his scholarship on the French and Haitian Revolutions, he has a strong interest in the issues raised by life-writing.  He is the author of History, Historians and Autobiography (University of Chicago Press, 2005), Facing Racial Revolution: Eyewitness Accounts of the Haitian Insurrection (University of Chicago Press, 2007), and, together with Julie Rak, he co-edited Philippe Lejeune’s collection of essays, On Diary (University of Hawai’I Press, 2009).  He is currently working on a family memoir of his own, tentatively entitled Lifewriting in the Family.

Paul Arthur, Australian National University

When Online is a Lifeline

Wednesday, June 12, 11.30 – 12.30

Online memorials first appeared in the late 1990s through websites created and hosted by families and friends starting their own pages. Having grown quicklyin popularity, they are now increasingly associated with contemporary bereaving, commemorating and memorialisingpractices, and integrated into everyday social interactions via social media.Today’s interactive media technologies do more than mediate: they are the mechanism both for recording or conveying news about death, and for remembering and memorialising.The incorporation of the deeply personal and private into the public realm is central to the therapeutic aspect of online memorialisation. Drawing upon several kinds of digital memorialisation, this paper considers the influence of these new forms – that create a perpetual ‘here and now’ for the dead – on the way people experience and communicate grief, and the implications, more broadly, for life writingand trauma theory.The paper will draw on recent examples to discuss: questions of representation through forms and modes of narration; questions of ethics through debates about appropriate conduct and interaction; and, questions of governance through debates about roles and rights in the administration of digital after-lives.

There are at least two kinds of working through trauma that online memorialisation allows. In the first, there is a normalisation of death through ‘continuing bonds.’ This entails taking over the voice of the deceased and bringing it into the ongoing chatter of real life; while this process takes place, time can perform its healing function. The ‘continuing bonds’ approach engages more than widely than immediate family, and while this has the positive effect of drawing family and friends together, it also opens the process to risks such as that of online memorials being diluted or ‘defaced.’ In the second, a dynamic is created that enables extreme expressions of intimate testimony or reflection to be shared in a largely public space. This is coming to be seen as constituting a lasting, even permanent, memorial and is for some as important as a physical memorial. Moreover, the integration of personal and public enables the formation of communities in a complex, new sense of the idea of community. Public exhibition of deeply private trauma brings together two categories that would not be compatible without Web 2.0 technologies and so this duality characterises a form of communication that is without precedent; it is leading to new notions of identity, and hence of memorialisation. The public place paradoxically becomes a safe haven where trauma can be expressed, as though privately, and yet, within the supportive framework of a receptive community, to the wider world.

Paul Arthur is Deputy Director of the ANUCentre for European Studies, a joint-funded special initiative of the European Commission and the Australian National University. He alsohas the role of Deputy Director of the National Centre of Biography and Deputy General Editor of the Australian Dictionary of Biography in the School of History at the ANU. From July 2013 he will be Professor in Digital Humanities at the University of Western Sydney.

Paul Arthur has held fellowships in Europe, North America and Australia and has over fifty publications in fields of history, literature, communication and cultural studies. Recent publications include the edited volumes International Life Writing: Memory and Identity in Global Context (2013), theAustralian Dictionary of Biography Volume 18 (2012, Deputy General Editor), Recovering Lives (2011) and, with Geoffrey Bolton, the award-winning Voices from the West End (2012). His bookVirtual Voyages: Travel Writing and the Antipodes 1605-1837 (2010) is a postcolonial study of European travel literature and cartography. Paul Arthur is President of the Australasian Association for Digital Humanities, and a member of the steering committee of the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations. He also serves on the executive committee of the International Auto/Biography Association.

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