Remembering and understanding the past. The value of literature for Memory Studies


  • Guido Bartolini



The article traces the emergence and evolution of the field of memory studies and its impact on the study of literature. It reconstructs the initial first and second waves of memory research, and it highlights key trends in its third and fourth phases. The article then examines the main theories of cultural memory studies and explores the role of literature in shaping collective memory dynamics. While the theoretical foundations of cultural memory studies prioritise intermedial and contextualist interpretations of culture, potentially downplaying the significance of literature, the article shows that recent works with a focus on the ethical dimensions of memory narratives have reaffirmed the crucial role of literature as a heuristic tool for understanding and reflecting on the past and present. As a result, despite the theoretical trajectory of the field, memory studies research interested in developing a complex ethical perspective on the past continues to affirm and preserve literature’s enduring value.

Author Biography

Guido Bartolini

Guido Bartolini è Senior Postdoctoral Fellow all’Università di Ghent dove lavora sulla me-
moria culturale del fascismo nella letteratura italiana e sull’idea di responsabilità per il pas-
sato con un progetto di ricerca finanziato da The Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO).
Ha pubblicato vari articoli sulla rappresentazione del fascismo e della Seconda Guerra Mon-
diale e ha curato il volume “Il fascismo nella cultura italiana: 1945-2023” (Annali d’Italiani-
stica, 2023). È l’autore dello studio monografico La letteratura della Guerra dell’Asse: Me-
moria italiana, autoassoluzione, responsabilità (Carocci, 2023), originariamente pubblicato
da Palgrave Macmillan nel 2021. Ha lavorato a Royal Holloway, University of London e a
University College Cork.



How to Cite

Bartolini, G. (2024). Remembering and understanding the past. The value of literature for Memory Studies. Status Quaestionis, (26).