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Masterclass with Joep Leerssen and Ann Rigney on Interscalar Memories: Urbi et Orbi

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Royal Netherlands Institute Rome
1 – 12 June, 2017

deadline for applications: 1 April 2017

Format and objectives In the early development of cultural memory studies, the national framework seemed the ‘natural’ one for studying the production of shared memory, and its relation to collective identity. Recently this methodological nationalism has been challenged on a number of grounds, not least of them being its inability to capture the entanglements of today’s globalised society. The national framework is still a very important one for memory and identity, not least because of the role of nation-based heritage institutions; but it has long ceased to have the privileged place it once enjoyed. A multiscalar analysis is needed, which would account for the production and circulation of memory at scales smaller than that of nations (families, cities) but also at scales that transcend national boundaries (regional, European, diasporic).

The aim of this masterclass is to explore theoretically, historically, and empirically what is to be gained from such a multi-scalar approach and to reflect critically on how we could use it to get a better grasp both of the multiplicity of narratives at work in society and of the frictions between them. A key aspect of our exploration will be the interplay between the memory materialized in localities and the role of the media in circulating cultural representations which carry that memory to people elsewhere. The palimpsestic city of Rome will offer an ideal observation point for studying the interplay between the local and the global, the city and the world, over a longer period.

The masterclass combines lectures, seminar sessions and site visits. In the lectures and seminars we will discuss key theoretical and methodological issues, and survey particular frameworks of memory, each tethered to a particular “remembrance Rome”. These include: the Imperial city (Napoleon to Mussolini and Hollywood epics); the papacy’s religious capital (after the restoration of Pius VII); the national capital (after 1871); the Holocaust and World War II; the hub of activism, exiles and migrants. Cinematographic thematizations of Rome as an imperial, metropolitan, national or global city, and as a mnemonic space will also be included.

The site visits will be to landmarks that can be “read” as lieux de mémoire across multiscalar frames (e.g. the Vittorio Emmanuele Monument and the Ardeatine Caves ). At the same time, the question will be confronted how these multiscalar memories coexist, competing for bandwidth in the limited, over-memorized space of a single (unique) city.

Course information

The Masterclass is organised by and hosted at the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome (KNIR), in conjunction with the Huizinga Institute. Research Institute and Graduate School for Cultural History, and the Netherlands Research School for Literary Studies (OSL).

Staff: KNIR-fellow prof.dr. Joep Leerssen (University of Amsterdam), Knir-fellow prof.dr. Ann Rigney (Utrecht University), in conjunction with prof. dr Harald Hendrix (KNIR).

This masterclass is Leerssen/Rigney’s second collaborative research project after their Commemorating writers in 19th-century Europe: Nation-Building and Centenary Fever (Palgrave, 2014).

Credits: 6 ects, assigned upon completion of the final essay.
Languages used in the Masterclass: English.
Assessment: on-site oral presentations, active contribution to plenary discussions, assignments and a final essay to be submitted after the stay in Rome.

Admission The Masterclass is open to a maximum of 10 selected students at (R)MA or PhD-level, as well as to early career researchers in the humanities and beyond.


Tuition is free for selected participants. Dutch participants may be eligible for KNIR bursaries covering all expenses (see below). Other participants are required to cover their stay in the KNIR at their own expenses.

Bursaries for Dutch participants

Selected participants from KNIR partner universities (Universiteit van Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit, Universiteit Leiden, Universiteit Utrecht, Radboud Universiteit, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen) are eligible for KNIR bursaries, comprising all expenses related to the Masterclass (tuition, lodging in Rome, conference fees, etc.). Personal expenses, including meals, are not included. Students receive a € 100 reimbursement of their expenses for travelling to Rome after submission of their final essay.


Applications are welcome until 1 April 2017. Notice on acceptance will follow before 15 April 2017. This will include information on the selection for KNIR bursaries. Applicants need to submit an application letter containing information on their motivation, their C.V. and on the marks obtained in their current programme. Candidates can apply by filling out the application form and sending it, together with the application letter and their research statement, to: Download the application form at .

Facilities in Rome

All participants will be housed at the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome’s Villa Borghese Park. From there, it is only a short walk to the historical centre of Rome. The KNIR accommodation consists of shared bedrooms and bathrooms, and includes a living and dining space, a large kitchen, washing machine and wireless internet. All residents have 24/7 access to the library and gardens of the Royal Netherlands Institute.

Contact information Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome Via Omero 10-12 00197 ROMA
Phone: (0039)063269621