“Primary Source” Conference Explores Memory and Identity

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Image of a brain and synapsesAcademics, thought leaders and students from around the country will gather in St. Louis May 17 – 19 to explore the connections between memory and identity at Primary Source, an interdisciplinary conference hosted by Fontbonne University in partnership with the Missouri History Museum.

Funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Primary Source delves into the role memory plays in the human experience, shaping personal identity as well as community and informing faith, politics, daily experiences and interactions, and so much more. The conference will look at both the internal physiology and psychology of memory, along with the external preservation of collective memory and history.

“We’re interested in exploring memory, particularly with regard to the ways in which it creates identity for individuals and collectives as they move through time and place,” said Dr. Corinne Wohlford, associate vice president for academic affairs at Fontbonne and a member of the conference coordinating committee, which includes representatives from the departments of English and communication, history, philosophy and religion, and behavioral sciences.

The conference will open Thursday, May 17, with a keynote address from Sarah Buchanan, assistant professor at the School of Information Science and Learning Technologies at the University of Missouri. Her presentation, “Making Audiovisual and Collective Memory Public,” will explore how investments in discoverability of archaeological archives create pathways for active collections. Additional presentations throughout the conference range in topic from art and activism to personal identity and literature to memory, bias and U.S. history. Presentations will take place at both Fontbonne University and the Missouri History Museum in nearby Forest Park.

The conference is part of a three-year, NEH-funded project. “Primary Source: Memory and the Construction of Identity across Time and Place” is an interdisciplinary collaboration on Fontbonne University’s campus that engages both students and faculty in research and exploration. The Missouri History Museum has served as a partner since the project’s beginning in 2017.