The Past in its Place: Histories of Memory in English and Welsh Locales

This five-year project will explore the ‘history of memory’ in a range of English and Welsh locales from the early medieval period down to the modern era. Focusing on three types of place – Cathedral Tombs and Memorials, Ancient Habitations, and Local Landscapes – we will investigate change and continuity in the ways individuals and communities have imagined, appropriated, and reinvented the past. Drawing on the disciplinary perspectives of literary studies and archaeology, the project will identify and interpret the manifold ‘technologies of remembrance’ – including texts, oral traditions, material objects and customary practices – whereby individuals and groups have depicted, ratified, or contested relationships between the past and the present. The Past in its Place will transcend the boundaries of periodization and discipline to examine patterns of remembrance, re-imagining and forgetting over the longue durée.

The project’s findings will be disseminated in three co-authored volumes, edited by Professor Philip Schwyzer, under the general title The Past in its Place. Exemplifying a fresh and interdisciplinary approach to the history of memory, these studies will, it is hoped, ignite further research both within Britain and overseas. Aspects identifying this project as frontier research include:

  • A cross-period approach, historicizing the model of lieux de mémoire in order to investigate change and continuity in perceptions of the past over the longue duree;
  • A combination of literary and archaeological perspectives and methodologies, producing a rich and heterogeneous understanding of historical memory as expressed in both textual and material practice;
  • A socially inclusive and multicultural approach, reading local customary practices and oral traditions alongside elite perspectives, and Welsh and Cornish localities and texts alongside English ones.

For more information, please see the full project page under the department of English.