Keynote speakers – University of Copenhagen

Cultural Memory > Keynote speakers

Keynote speakers

The organisers are pleased to confirm the presence of the following keynote speakers:

  • William St Clair (Senior Research Fellow, University of London)
    Author of The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period

    'The viewing nation in the British romantic period'

    William St Clair will discuss how in the late eighteenth/early nineteenth century, a sense of the imagined community of 'nation' was carried to readers by illustrations in books. He will show how the political economy structures of copyright and technology, new and unique to that age, enabled huge new constituencies to imagine the 'nation' both topographically and as a cultural entity existing across time.  Besides images in powerpoint, some examples of the actual materiality will be shown.

    Biographical: William St Clair is senior research fellow at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. He is author of The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period, 2004 of which an abridgement, updated in 2012, The Political Economy of Reading, is available, free to read under Creative Commons at

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  • Ann Rigney (University of Utrecht)
    Convenor of Utrecht Memory Studies and NITMES (Network in Transnational Memory Studies)

    'Habitats of memory: Scott’s materialism and its afterlife'

    This paper will provide an integrated analysis of Scott’s historical fiction and his antiquarianism. It will argue that his historicism was fed by a thoroughgoing materialism and an ecological approach to memory that provided an influential blueprint for memory work in the nineteenth century. In presenting this case, my paper will challenge the distinction drawn by Pierre Nora (1984-1992) between environments (milieux) and sites of memory (lieux de mémoire).

    Biographical: Ann Rigney is Professor of Comparative Literature at Utrecht University and coordinator of the Utrecht Forum for Memory Studies. She has published widely in the field of cultural memory, including most recently The Afterlives of Walter Scott: Memory on the Move(Oxford UP, 2012), Commemorating Writers in Nineteenth-Century Europe (edited with J. Leerssen; Palgrave, 2014), and Transnational Memory: Circulation, Articulation, Scales(edited with C. De Cesari; de Gruyter, 2014).

  • Joep Leerssen (University of Amsterdam)
    Coordinator of SPIN (Study Platform on Interlocking Nationalisms)

    'Anamnesis: Romantic recall'
    Part of Romantic historicism is its salvage instinct: the urge to document living traditions (folktales, dialects, customs), threatened by modernity, before they fall into obsolescence. This “salvage paradigm” is well known but tends to obscure another, equally characteristic mode of the Romantic approach to collective memory: the urge to resuscitate a past that is already dead, to revive a cultural memory that is already post-mortem. Retrieving manuscripts found in attics or reassembling ancient cultural expressions from their ruined, fragmented disiecta membra: this archeology of culture can be traced from Ossian to Görres. It informs one of the most potent political expressions of Romantic historicism - the idea of the nation as a Sleeping Beauty, awaiting something that can be called a revival, renaissaissance, resurgence, rebirth or reawakening.

    Joep Leerssen (Leiden 1955), a comparatist by training, is Professor of European Studies at the University of Amsterdam, where he coordinates the "Study Platform on Interlocking Nationalisms" (SPIN, His work approaches the history of national movements in 19th-century Europe from the study of cultural dynamics and cultural transfers. Among his books are Remembrance and Imagination (1996), National Thought in Europe (3rd ed. 2010) and De bronnen van het vaderland (2nd ed. 2011); he is the editor of the Encyclopedia of Romantic Nationalism in Europe 
  • Susanna Pettersson (Director of Ateneum Art Museum / the Finnish National Gallery)

    Adjunct Professor in museology at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Editor in chief of several publications, including Collections Mobility, A Way Forward for Museum in Europe (2010)

    'The Finnish Art Society: establishing a national museum and a national story of art'

    In the 19th century Finland, the key driver of the Finnish visual arts scene was the Finnish Art Society that had been founded in 1846. It mastered all the fields from art education to exhibiting and collecting art therefore quickly growing into a fine arts power structure. The Society, being at the time the sole actor in the field, influenced and even defined the contents of Finnish art thus encouraging the implementation of a nationalistic agenda.

    The aim of the presentation is to discuss how the Finnish Art Society’s collection came into being within the historical and political context. The central thesis is that the collection was primarily built for educational purposes: first for teaching the art students and then the public at large, and that the contents of the collection were built accordingly. The national character of the collection grew simultaneously with the developments of Finnish art. Core questions are how the story of Finnish art came into being, who the creators of the story were and what the philosophical basis used for value judgement was.

    Biographical: Dr. Susanna Pettersson, Director of the Ateneum Art Museum / the Finnish National Gallery, is an art historian specialised in museum history and collection studies. Susanna has worked more than twenty year in museums, including posts of the director of Alvar Aalto Museum in Finland and Director of development at the Finnish National Gallery. She has also been Director of the Finnish Institute in London.
         Susanna is Adjunct Professor in museology and publishes widely on the subject. Since 2011 she has been a guest lecturer at the Reinwardt Academy, Amsterdam. Her publications include Encouraging Collections Mobility – A Way Forward for Museums in Europe (ed.) 2010 and many other items ranging from theory and historical issues to mapping out the future trends. Currently she works with topics related to the history of art history, among others. She’s a Board Member of the Aalto University and holds several other positions of trust.

    See also: and (at Twitter) @susannapetterss