Memory and Discourse: workshop and lecture with Professor Martin Reisigl on the 26th of May



the 26th of May (Friday) 12:30-3:30pm, 5-6:30pm, KCL Strand Campus, Room S3.30

Cultural and collective memory are most commonly analysed with methodologies from the disciplines of literary studies, history, and the social sciences. However, there is an increasing interest among linguists in the study of memory. The workshop and lecture will offer insights into how collective memory can be researched with sociolinguistic methods. During the workshop, Graduate and Postgraduate students will have an opportunity to present their research related to the broader topic of sociolinguistics, discourse studies, semiotics and the study of cultural and collective memory. The evening lecture of Professor Reisigl will address semiotics of commemoration and demonstrate how it can be examined using Critical Discourse Analysis. Professor Reisigl will discuss commemoration as a multimodal semiotic practice, which is an important political activity that serves the formation, reproduction and transformation of political identity.

If you would like to participate in the workshop and/or attend the lecture, email the Reading Group at to reserve a place (indicating if you are interested in the workshop, lecture or both). Number of places is limited, please register by the 21st of May the latest.

Tea, coffee and snacks will be provided during the workshop. A wine reception will follow the evening lecture.

Martin Reisigl is currently Assistant Professor for Sociolinguistics at the Institute for German Studies and the Center for the Study of Language and Society (CSLS), University of Bern. Professor Reisigl has been one of the key authors in the field of Critical Discourse analysis. He co-authored The Discursive Construction of National Identity (1999/2009, with Ruth Wodak, Rudolf De Cillia and Karin Liebhart) and Discourse and Discrimination (2001, with Ruth Wodak), and was the author of Nationale Rhetorik in Fest- und Gedenkreden. Eine diskursanalytische Studie zum „österreichischen Millennium“ in den Jahren 1946 und 1996 (2007).

WORKSHOP 12:30-3:30pm

Confirmed presentations

Anastasiya Astapova (Univeristy of Tartu): Drawing from Soviet Memories: Self-reflective Metaphors among Russian-speaking Refugees in Estonia.

Thomas Van de Putte (King’s College London): We without others. The European Commission’s struggle with the memory of nazism after the economic crisis.

There are still places available for those who would like to present. If you are interested in presenting during the workshop, please let us know by the 15th of May at Presentations can take up to fifteen minutes, and they will be followed by a response from Professor Reisigl and a discussion involving all participants.


Prof. dr. Martin Reisigl: Semiotics of Commemoration

Commemoration is a multimodal semiotic practice and – with respect to its purpose – an important political activity that serves the formation, reproduction and transformation of political identity. It is organized around a meaningful moment in the past of a political community and its “lessons” for the present and future. Commemoration involves the political dimension of polity, i.e. the framework for political action, including political culture and political values. With respect to this dimension, commemoration has an integrative function. However, it can also play a disintegrative role if negative experiences are recollected in order to stir up collective aversions toward an enemy.

In my lecture, I will focus on salient semiotic features of political commemoration. The paper is divided into five parts. In the first part, I will explain and discuss fundamental characteristics of political commemoration. Then, I will describe the commemorative speech as a basic format of communication that allows for “bringing to remembrance” a particular reading of the past in the context of a ritualized public event. Third, I will focus on important semiotic aspects of commemoration beyond the verbal dimension. In the fourth part, I will look at salient discursive features of political commemoration from the perspective of the Discourse-Historical Approach (DHA). This variant of Critical Discourse Analysis concentrates on the representation of historical changes as well as continuities. The paper will be rounded up by a conclusion.

This is the final event in a series of three workshops on methodologies and interdisciplinarity organized by the Cultural Memory Studies Reading Group of KCL’s Culture, Media and Creative Industries (CMCI) and German Department. The event is funded by the KCL’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities through the Small Grant for Research in the Arts and Humanities scheme (Group Events Grant).


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