Many have remarked at the tendency of French Renaissance literature to commemorate past experience. Modern thought tends in the opposite direction, relegating prior experience to oblivion. Sixteenth-century French literature attempts to reconcile the two divergent tendencies, and perhaps for that reason has been dubbed the “early modern” period. Furthermore, the early modern treatment of memory and forgetfulness are determined by various theories from mythology to Christian ideology to medieval humeral philosophy. Through such theories the two are either diametrically opposed or inextricably intertwined and memory becomes aligned with morality and the soul whereas forgetting is associated with morality depravity and the body. At first glance it seems that the art of forgetting is overshadowed by the art of remembering in the literature of the period, but memory and forgetting are, in fact, mutually dependent. On the most basic level, the same fear of passing time and eventual death which inspired the countless carpe diem poems also motivated poets to create testaments to their lives to ensure that they not be forgotten.
We welcome proposals on French literature from the 16th Century / Renaissance that fall within the conference topic. Please send 500-words to Brooke Di Lauro (email@example.com) by November 1, 2010.