Journal of Romance Studies

Cultural memory and the everyday

Journal of Romance Studies (2003), 3, (1), 45–57.

Abstract

Is there a model of cultural memory that matches the theorizations and practical investigations which have made ‘the everyday’ a workable and dynamic category in contemporary cultural studies? I argue that despite its emphasis on the present Michel de Certeau’s The Practice of Everyday Life retains, as part of its picture of the everyday, a mode of memory that may seem at odds with cultural memory as it is often perceived, but may in fact point to a potentially fertile version of cultural memory itself. To illustrate this I examine a) Certeau’s own account of the role of proper names in the city; b) Georges Perec’s Je me souviens, a list of 480 sentences beginning with the phrase ‘I remember’, but relating to collective rather than strictly personal memories; c) Annie Ernaux’s Journal du dehors, a sort of diary or log-book that records, in short fragments, observations culled in public spaces.

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Augustine of Hippo (1961) Confessions (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books). Confessions Google Scholar

Barthes, Roland (1980) La Chambre claire (Paris: Seuil/Gallimard). La Chambre claire Google Scholar

Benjamin, Walter (1999) The Arcades Project, trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press). The Arcades Project Google Scholar

Bourdieu, Pierre (1990) [1972] The Logic of Practice, trans. Richard Nice (Cambridge: Polity Press). The Logic of Practice Google Scholar

Bourdieu, Pierre (2000) [1972] Esquisse d’une théorie de la pratique (Paris: Seuil). Esquisse d’une théorie de la pratique Google Scholar

Calle, Sophie (1996) L’Erouv de Jérusalem (Arles: Actes Sud). L’Erouv de Jérusalem Google Scholar

Certeau, Michel de (1984) The Practice of Everyday Life, trans. Steven Rendall (Berkeley CA: University of California Press). The Practice of Everyday Life Google Scholar

Certeau, Michel de (1990) [1980] L’Invention du quotidien, I, Arts de faire (Paris: Gallimard ‘Folio’). Folio L’Invention du quotidien, I, Arts de faire Google Scholar

Certeau, Michel de (1994) [1980] L’Invention du quotidien, II, Habiter, cuisiner (Paris: Gallimard ‘Folio’). Folio L’Invention du quotidien, II, Habiter, cuisiner Google Scholar

Certeau, Michel de (1998) The Practice of Everyday Life, vol. II: Living and Cooking, trans. Timothy J. Tomasik (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press). The Practice of Everyday Life Google Scholar

Certeau, Michel de with Dominique Julia and Jacques Revel (1993) [1970] ‘La beauté du mort’, in La Culture au pluriel (Paris: Seuil), 45–72. La beauté du mort La Culture au pluriel 45 72 Google Scholar

Connerton, Paul (1989) How Societies Remember (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). How Societies Remember Google Scholar

Detienne, Marcel and Jean-Pierre Vernant (1978) [1975] Cunning Intelligence in Greek Culture and Society, trans. Janet Lloyd (Chicago: Chicago University Press). Cunning Intelligence in Greek Culture and Society Google Scholar

Ernaux, Annie (1995) [1993] Journal du dehors (Paris: Gallimard ‘Folio’). Journal du dehors Google Scholar

Ernaux, Annie (1996) Exteriors, trans. Tanya Leslie (New York: Seven Stories Press). Exteriors Google Scholar

Foucault, Michel (1975) Surveiller et punir (Paris: Gallimard). Surveiller et punir Google Scholar

Foucault, Michel (1979) Discipline and Punish, trans. Alan Sheridan (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books). Discipline and Punish Google Scholar

Halbwachs, Maurice (1950) La Mémoire collective (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France). La Mémoire collective Google Scholar

Legrand, Michel (1993) L’Approche biographique (Paris: Desclée de Brouwer). L’Approche biographique Google Scholar

Neruda, Pablo (1978) [Spanish original 1974] Memoirs, trans. Hardie St Martin (London: Penguin Books). Memoirs Google Scholar

Perec, Georges (1986) Je me souviens (Paris: Hachette). Je me souviens Google Scholar

Perec, Georges (1989) [1974] L’Infra-ordinaire (Paris: Seuil). L’Infra-ordinaire Google Scholar

Perec, Georges (1990) Je suis né (Paris: Seuil). Je suis né Google Scholar

Perec, Georges (1997) [French original 1974] Species of Spaces and Other Pieces, ed. and trans. John Sturrock (London: Penguin Books). Species of Spaces and Other Pieces Google Scholar

Samuel, Raphael (1996) Theatres of Memory (London: Verso). Theatres of Memory Google Scholar

Sheringham, Michael (1993) ‘The otherness of memory’, in French Autobiography: Devices and Desires. Rousseau to Perec (Oxford: Clarendon Press), 288–326. The otherness of memory French Autobiography: Devices and Desires. Rousseau to Perec 288 326 Google Scholar

Sheringham, Michael (2000) ‘Attending to the everyday: Blanchot, Lefebvre, Certeau, Perec’, French Studies 14, 187–99. Attending to the everyday: Blanchot, Lefebvre, Certeau, Perec French Studies 14 187 99 Google Scholar

Sheringham, Michael (2001) ‘Michel de Certeau: the logic of everyday practices’, Cross-Cultural Poetics 7, 28–43. Michel de Certeau: the logic of everyday practices Cross-Cultural Poetics 7 28 43 Google Scholar

Stein, Gertrude (1937) Everybody’s Autobiography (London: The Bodley Head). Everybody’s Autobiography Google Scholar

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Author details

Sheringham, Michael