Committing the Future to MemoryHistory, Experience, Trauma

Committing the Future to MemoryHistory, Experience, Trauma

Sarah Clift

Print publication date: 2014

ISBN: 9780823254200

Publisher: Fordham University Press

Abstract

Committing the Future to Memory: History, Experience, Trauma seeks to rethink the relation between history and memory by revisiting the temporality of experience and its narrative representation. Whereas historical determinacy conceives the past to be a complex and unstable network of causalities, asks how history can be related to a more radical future. To pose that question, it does not reject determinacy outright but rather seeks to explore how it works. In examining what it means to be “determined” by history, it also asks what kind of openings there might be in our encounters with history for interruptions, re-readings and re-writings. Engaging texts spanning multiple genres and several centuries-from John Locke to Maurice Blanchot, from G. W. F. Hegel to Hannah Arendt and Walter Benjamin-this book looks at experiences of time that exceed the historical narration of experiences said to have occurred in time. It focuses on the co-existence of multiple temporalities and opens up the quintessentially modern notion of historical succession to other possibilities. The alternatives the book draws out include the mediations of language and narration, temporal leaps, oscillations and blockages, and the role played by contingency in representation. The book argues that such alternatives compel us to reassess the ways we understand history and identity in a traumatic, or indeed in a post-traumatic, age.