The Future of Memory and the Memory of Future: Reenactment, Vi Olence, and Temporality in Contemporary Novels and Films in the 21st Century

Project: A - Government Institutionb - National Science and Technology Council

Project Details


This two-year research project aims to explore how memory is represented and imagined in 21st century British and American novels and films, such as Tom McCarthy’s novels Remainder (2005), Satin Island (2015), Christopher Nolan’s Memento (2000), and Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report (2002). The topic of the first year (2018/8/1~2019/7/31) will be “Reenactment, Violence, and Narrative in Search of Memory Lost in Tom McCarthy’s Remainder and Satin Island”; while the second year (2019/8/1~2020/7/31) will be “The Memory of Future and Temporality in Memento and Minority Report). These stories of memory, which take place in current digital age or the next generation of A.I., will shed new light on how memory is no longer what we used to associated with fixity, actuality, the past, or the antagonism of the forgetting. The amnesic protagonists in Remainder and Memento are constantly haunted by deja vu they cannot make sense of despite their endless attempts to re-enact the past; the corporate anthologist in Satin Island contemplates what to do with the repetition and meaninglessness in the structure of time and memory, symbolized in the form of a buffering circle on his computer screen. The “PreCrime” police in Minority Report must prove that he “will not have murdered” a stranger as he is convicted by “the memory of future,” envisioned by the Precogs, who can see what will have happened in the near future. In one way or another, these stories imagine the possibility of “the future of memory” and “the memory of future.” Reading these stories in terms of the theories such as Slavoj Zizek and Mark Currie’s “futur anterierur” (future perfect) and Daniel Kahneman’s study of “experiencing self” and “remembering self,” this project will focus on the themes of reenactment, violence, and new temporality in these representation of the changing state of memory in the 21st century. Along with my current MOST-funded research project, “Ways of Seeing, Remembering, and Forgetting in the 21st Century: Unreliable Narrators and Narrative Paradox in Julian Barnes’ and Ian McEwan’s Novels,” this interdisciplinary study will provide a timely, comprehensive, and in-depth response to the existent scholarship on memory studies in contemporary novels and films.
Effective start/end date8/1/1810/1/19


  • memory
  • forgetting
  • amnesia
  • authenticity
  • time
  • temporality
  • futur antérieur (future perfect)
  • reenactment
  • repetition
  • violence


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