Topic for the Year 2011–2012:
“Memory and Forgetting”

Co-Chairs: Christine Luckritz Marquis (Duke), Phil Webster (Penn), and Todd Berzon (Columbia)
PSCO Coordinator: Annette Yoshiko Reed (Penn)

In recent years, scholars have become increasingly attentive to the creation and management of memory in ancient Jewish and Christian communities. This interest has gone beyond longstanding discussions about the oral and textual transmission of scriptures to consider the mechanics of the ritual memorialization of events and liturgical performance of the past, as well as the place of art, architecture, pilgrimage, and pedagogy in mediating and managing communal memories. How were memory and forgetting used to construct and maintain Jewish and Christian identities and boundaries? How do bodily movements and gestures serve to make and keep memories, including those about the proper shape and performance of gender? Furthermore, what role is played by the spaces and places in which bodies move and such memories are articulated? If questions of this sort remind us of the potency and malleability of memory, they also push us to ask about selectivity: Who and what has not been remembered? As such, the topic of memory and forgetting also addresses us as historians. Whose memories are we preserving and/or recovering, and whose are we forgetting? Why, and to what effect? How do technologies of memory-making shape the encounter and image of the past both within ancient religions, and for the scholars who study them? For example, texts may easily be identified as repositories of memory, but how does the mode and material of a text's transmission affect its memory-function as well as our access to it? This year's PSCO welcomes a conversation about these related issues concerning memory and forgetting and their place in the history and historiography of early Judaism and Christianity.