← View All

Special Guest Lecture

Trackless Mourning: The Mobilities of Love and Loss

Lecture Information

  • SpeakerLynne Pearce(Lancaster University)

In response to recent work in cultural geography on the spatial practices of mourning and remembrance, I draw upon my own research on the discourse of romantic love (in the field of literary and cultural theory) in order to theorise a connection between the memorial practices associated with the ‘life’ of a relationship and those pursued in retrospect. Through a focus on embodied mobility, I propose that there are implicit links between the way in which we create and store memories (à propos Bergson), the way we protect and project them (the processes commonly associated with nostalgia) and the way we activate them in later years (memorialisation). A secondary – but related – line of argument concerns the distinction between public (and ‘spectacular’) and private (and ‘invisible’) memorial practices and the function of mobilities of various kinds within each. With reference to a small selection of autobiographical and literary texts, I reflect upon the way in which burials (in the Christian tradition) have, for centuries, been inscribed by spectacular hypermobility (for the deceased as well as the bereaved) and how, by contrast, our more private memorial practices are often invisible precisely because they exist only as micro-mobilities of some kind. For while mourning may involve visits to memorials in the landscape (as explored in the work of Avril Maddrell and others), it may equally take the form of walks (or drives) devoid of both destination and visible trace (what I refer to here as a ‘trackless mourning’) or express itself in the smallest of gestures that, unbeknown to the world, unite the deceased and the bereaved.