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Memory: what, how, and where we remember

Fall 2009 Program


Why do we forget certain facts and experiences while others remain firmly in our minds? Does technology help or hinder? Do certain types of attention influence memory? Is recollection under hypnosis possible? How do some cultures convey knowledge by means of spirit mediums? And what do public memorials and museums add? Six eminent speakers offer fresh insights and new discoveries about the nature of memory and the workings of the mind.



October 8, 2009 Lecture - Memory and identity – personal and public

Dr. Vivian Rakoff, professor emeritus and former chair of the department of psychiatry, University of Toronto, and former director and psychiatrist-in-chief at the Clarke Institute, Toronto


Memory shapes our personal and public identity. At first our identity is largely familial – our interactions with parents and siblings – and later education, economic circumstances, relationships, and career. Our public identity is defined by language, symbols such as flags and anthems, and by history.


October 9, 2009 Seminar: Literature and Memory

Every work of literature is a memory. It exists in the past and is recalled in the present.



October 15, 2009 Lecture - How memory works: Clues from the laboratory and the clinic

Dr. Morris Moscovitch, University of Toronto and Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care is the Max and Gianna Glassman Chair in Neuropsychology and Aging at the University of Toronto.


A discussion on a number of different types of memory, and how they operate. While one type of memory may be impaired, another type may suggest ways memory problems can be treated.


October 16, 2009  Seminar Memory and face recognition

Questions and some answers



October 22, 2009 Lecture - Language, symbolic culture, and memory

Robert Logan is chief scientist at the Strategic Innovation Lab at OCAD and professor emeritus in physics at the University of Toronto. He collaborated and published with Marshall McLuhan. He has written 11 books and numerous journal articles in physics, linguistics, education and design among others. He was nominated as one of the top 30 lecturers in Ontario by TVOntario in 2005.


Verbal language and symbolic culture arose to deal with the complexity of life and permitted the formation of conceptual thought. Language is required for the kind of memory that leads to planning which is unique to humans. Genetic information, memory of perceptions, and events are some of the many sources of information.


October 23, 2009 Seminar What is information?



29, 2009 Lecture - How attention influences memory

Dr. Amir Raz, is Canada Research Chair in the Cognitive Neuroscience of Attention at McGill University. He uses brain-imaging technology to understand how and why we pay attention to things, and how attention influences cognition, emotion, thought, and action.


Dr. Raz, a one time magician, will discuss how states such as altered consciousness and hypnosis can affect memory and recall. In addition, he will present data from superior memorists and how they go about achieving their feats.


October 30, 2009 Seminar

Attending to remember; Attending to forget



November 5, 2009 Lecture - Culture and memory: Conveying the past and living the present through spirit possession

Pro. Michael Lambek, cultural anthropology, University of Toronto


Westerners face a kind of “memory crisis” in comparison with other times and places. Memory is shaped in part by the social milieu and the cultural vehicles through which it is transmitted. Dr. Lambek will describe spirit possession as practised by some communities of Malagasy speakers, in which former monarchs “return” to speak through the bodies of contemporary mediums.


Prof. Michael Lambek is a cultural anthropologist and holds a Canada Research Chair in the Anthropology of Ethical Life at the University of Toronto at Scarborough. He conducts long-term ethnographic fieldwork in the Indian Ocean islands of Mayotte and Madagascar.



November 6, 2009 Seminar - Constructing public memory: Museums and monuments

Janet Brooke is the Director of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University. Her extensive publications include the award-winning Discerning Tastes: Montreal Collectors 1880-1920, and Henri Hébert: un sculpteur moderne (for the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec).