Launched in 2017, the Otago Memory Group brings together researchers based at the University of Otago for informal discussion of interdisciplinary approaches to memory.

Schedule of meetings in 2017:


March 31, 4-5 p.m., CASTD. Elaine Reese (Department of Psychology). Origins of Autobiography: The development of memory and life stories.

Professor Reese will present the results of two longitudinal studies of autobiographical memory development with Dunedin children from age 1 to 16 years. These studies have focused on the development of episodic memory in early childhood and adolescence, and on the emergence of autobiographical reasoning in adolescence.


April 28, 3-4 p.m., CASTD. Evelyn Tribble (Department of English and Linguistics). Contagious Memory in Shakespeare.

Memory is a subject divided by a common vocabulary. For many cognitive psychologists, memory has been seen as an intra-cranial phenomenon, best studied in laboratory settings, where it can be tested in isolation from confounding factors. Researchers in the humanities and the arts, in contrast, often view memory as a social and collective phenomenon. Historians, anthropologists and cultural critics tend to be much more interested in the social and public aspects of memory, as embodied in, for example, in museums, monuments, and commemorative activities, or as collective traumas are repressed or expressed by public acts of memory. There is often little overlap between these two paradigms for studying memory. For example, the cognitive-science oriented Oxford Handbook of Memory does not discuss social or collective memory at all; in turn, the historical-philosophical oriented collection Theories of Memory: A Reader ignores cognitive science completely. This essay is a preliminary foray into bringing these two methods into dialogue with one another, using Romeo and Juliet as a test case. I propose to first examine internal dynamics of remembering and forgetting in the play, particularly the technique of retrospective story-telling, as characters attempt to shape and reshape memories for events that have just occurred. I argue that these dynamics – particularly the tendency to shape complex, contingent, and accidental events into binary categories that are more easily remembered – in turn affects that way that the play is received – how it is culturally (mis)remembered


July 28, time and room TBA. Kourken Michaelian (Department of Philosophy). Title TBA.


August 25, time and room TBA. Harlene Hayne (Department of Psychology). Title TBA.


Contact: kourken.michaelian@otago.ac.nz