1st Edition

Cultural Memory From the Sciences to the Humanities

Edited By Donald R. Wehrs, Suzanne Nalbantian, Don M. Tucker Copyright 2023
    232 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    232 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Bringing together neuroscientists, social scientists, and humanities scholars in cross-disciplinary exploration of the topic of cultural memory, this collection moves from seminal discussions of the latest findings in neuroscience to variegated, specific case studies of social practices and artistic expressions. This volume highlights what can be gained from drawing on broad interdisciplinary contexts in pursuing scholarly projects involving cultural memory and associated topics.

    The collection argues that contemporary evolutionary science, in conjunction with studies interconnecting cognition, affect, and emotion, as well as research on socially mediated memory, provides innovatively interdisciplinary contexts for viewing current work on how cultural and social environments influence gene expression and neural circuitry. Building on this foundation, Cultural Memory turns to the exploration of the psychological processes and social contexts through which cultural memory is shaped, circulated, revised, and contested. It investigates how various modes of cultural expression—architecture, cuisine, poetry, film, and fiction—reconfigure shared conceptualizing patterns and affectively mediated articulations of identity and value. Each chapter showcases research from a wide range of fields and presents diverse interdisciplinary contexts for future scholarship.

    As cultural memory is a subject that invites interdisciplinary perspectives and is relevant to studying cultures around the world, of every era, this collection addresses an international readership comprising scholars from the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, from advanced undergraduates to senior researchers.


    Introduction: Cultural Memory from Interdisciplinary Perspectives

    Donald R. Wehrs

    Part 1: The Neuroscience of Cultural Memory

    1. Synaptic Epigenesis and the Social Brain

    Suzanne Nalbantian and Jean-Pierre Changeux

    2. Molecular Epigenetics, the Biology of Memory, and Biology as Memory

    Maurizio Meloni

    3. Molecular Mechanisms of Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance: Implications for Cultural Memory

    Peter Sarkies

    4. From Self-Continuity to Culture and Back: The Brain’s Scale-Free Activity and Temporal Memory of the World

    Georg Northoff

    5. The Evolution and Dissolution of Cultural Memory

    Don M. Tucker and Phan Luu

    Part 2: Cultural Memory in Psychological and Social Contexts

    6. Collective Memory: Conceptual Foundations and Group Formation

    James V. Wertsch, Henry L. Roediger III, and Christopher L. Zerr

    7. Cultural Memory: Sharing Recollections We Don’t Have About Things That Never Happened

    Patrick Colm Hogan

    8. The Aesthetics of Culture: Framing Shared Experiences Through Embodied Metaphors

    Andrea Carraro, Angelie Ignacio, Eva L. Cupchik, and Gerald C. Cupchik

    9. The U.S. Civil War and Cultural Memory

    David S. Reynolds

    Part 3: The Arts, Literature, and Contested Cultural Memory

    10. The Memorial’s Vernacular Arc Between Berlin’s Denkmal and New York City’s 9/11 Memorial

    James E. Young

    11. Nourishment for the Mind: Narrating Indian Food as Cultural Memory

    Alexa Weik von Mossner

    12. Neural Pluralism and Cultural Memory in Eliot’s The Waste Land and Akhmatova’s Requiem

    Donald R. Wehrs

    13. From Implicit Memory to Cultural Counter-Memory: Marguerite Duras Rewriting Colonial Trauma

    Sirkka Knuuttila


    Donald R. Wehrs is Hargis Professor of English Literature at Auburn University, Auburn, AL, as well as editor or co-editor of four collections, including The Palgrave Handbook of Affect Studies and Textual Criticism (2017), and author of three monographs on African fiction. He has also published on comparative literature, Shakespeare, and literary theory.

    Suzanne Nalbantian is Professor of Comparative Literature at Long Island University and an interdisciplinary scholar. Her eight books include Memory in Literature: From Rousseau to Neuroscience (2003), and her edited volumes The Memory Process: Neuroscientific and Humanistic Perspectives (2011) and Secrets of Creativity: What Neuroscience, the Arts and Our Minds Reveal (2019).

    Don M. Tucker is CEO and senior scientist at The Brain Electrophysiology Laboratory Company, and Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Oregon. He has published Mind From Body: Experience from Neural Structure (2007), Cognition and Neural Development (2012, with Phan Luu), and Out of the Cave: A Natural Philosophy of Mind and Knowing (2021, with Mark Johnson).

    "With something as diffuse as 'cultural memory,' the rich resources behind the humanities, social sciences, and neuroscience must be called upon. Readers will here be amply rewarded by the range and clarity of the competing frameworks on offer. Leading experts consistently help make sense of this vast terrain even as they help build it and trouble its assumptions. Throughout, literature and the arts help us to think through enactive, evolutionary, and predictive scientific models of mind, memory, and trauma."

    Richard C. Sha, Professor of Literature and Affiliate Professor of Philosophy, American University

    "This innovative collection approaches the situated dynamism, adaptive resilience, and transgenerational reach of human memory. From ancient folk tales to modernist epics and immigrant recipes, storytelling and symbolization support the plasticity and pluralism of cultural memory in search of sustainable worlds. Combining new research in neuroscience and epigenetics with cultural analysis, this volume has profound implications for how we understand and enact consciousness, agency, and collective identity in the face of war, globalization, and the ruins of time."

    Julia Reinhard Lupton, author of Shakespeare Dwelling: Designs for the Theater of Life

    "This book represents an audacious attempt to integrate cultural knowledge into a general neuro-cognitive model of human knowledge. Such integration is a necessary step toward our understanding of how primate cognition over time evolve to accommodate the rise of of human communication and human culture."

    T. Givon, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics and Cognitive Science, University of Oregon