Turku Institute for Advanced Studies
Imaginative Encounters: Irène Némirovsky and Charlotte Salomon in the Twenty-First Century
My project aims to contribute to the exploration of the ethical potential of memory and imagination within storytelling practices. In order to do so, I bring together writer Irène Némirovsky (1903–1942), artist Charlotte Salomon (1917–1943), and recent adaptations of their lives and works made for screen, theatre, and cultural institutions. The project is rooted in a mixed, interdisciplinary approach that draws on literary theory, narrative studies, adaptation studies, performance studies and cultural memory studies, and that also includes (auto)ethnographic methods. What are the ethical challenges of engaging with these works in the present moment? What effects (and affects) do the adaptations have on contemporary audiences? How could we rethink the connections between memory and imagination from the perspective of ‘imaginative encounters’? How do cultural practices perform and make sense of the past in the present? The project seeks to respond to these concerns by addressing these heterogenous works that: (a) access the past in a culturally situated (individual and collective) present; (b) create a ‘stratified cultural memory’ engaged in narrative processes of meaning-making; (c) allow encounters where memory and imagination interweave with the audience’s own social and historical experiences. By contributing to the exploration of the role that art and literature play in making sense of our past, engaging in the present, and shaping an ethical future, the project reflects on the cultural making of our societies and on their future challenges.