LRU News

We are what we remember – Lenoir-Rhyne University forum to focus on memory

Fri Mar 7 2014

HICKORY, N.C. — Memory matters. Think about it.

Without memory we would live in an eternal present devoid of internal and external context. Its loss would cost us a portion of our humanity.

Memory is essential for self awareness, vital for interpersonal connections and key for the development of community. The reason is simple: Humans are born storytellers. The stories we tell about ourselves help us form and display our identities. The stories we tell about our friends, family and community are key to finding and maintaining our place in the world.

The theme for Lenoir-Rhyne University’s 2014 Humanities Forum is “Memory Matters.” The forum is being held at the Blowing Rock Conference Center from May 30 until June1. Early registration has begun.

As memory is key to storytelling, storytelling is key to LR’s 2014 forum. This year’s keynote speaker is Jim Dodson.  He will be speaking on “Memory and Memoir.”  He’ll also be leading a writing workshop called “The Memoir: Getting Started.”

Dodson is one of today’s most esteemed golf writers, and is editor of award-winning PineStraw Magazine in Southern Pines, North Carolina—the arts and culture magazine of the Carolina Sandhills.

He wrote a column for Golf Magazine for nearly 20 years. Dodson’s work has appeared in more than 50 magazines and newspapers worldwide. His bestselling books include a memoir of a golf trip across the U.K. with his terminally ill father called “Final Rounds.” Dodson also wrote “A Golfers Life: Arnold Palmer,” and “Ben Hogan: An American Life,” which won the USGA International Book Award in 2005. His most recent book is “American Triumvirate: How Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Byron Nelson Created the Modern Age of Golf”.

This is the 33rd year of Lenoir-Rhyne’s Humanities Forum. The three-day event allows the public to reserve a place to listen to some of LR’s best and brightest experts shed some insightful light on the topic of memory.

LR’s six presenters come from a variety of disciplines including the schools of music, philosophy, communication, psychology, English and history.


Dr. John Cheek is a music professor and an accomplished concert pianist. He will address the methods musicians use to memorize and perform massively complex compositions. Cheek will detail the process of integrating analytic skill with tactile, aural, and visual intelligence.

Cheek is a top prize-winner in a number of important national and international music competitions. He’s also a Fulbright Scholar who spent 2001 in Armenia performing in concerts and teaching courses on American music. Cheek’s most recent performance album is called “The 99 Beautiful Names of God.”


LR philosophy professor Dr. Michael Deckard is going to examine the intersection of memory and imagination. He will seek to answer the question, “What is the difference between memory and imagination—fantasy and reality?”

Deckard will discuss the therapeutic function of déjà vu and the “ah-ha moment.” He will draw from several literary and scientific sources as he works to answer a single poignant question: “What is the difference between memory and imagination, fantasy and reality?”


If you don’t know something—Google it. How many of us keep Google close by so that we can gather information instantly when we’re using our computers?

What we remember depends in large part on how we retrieve information and how we process what we discover. Communication professor Dr. Jeffrey Delbert will explore how the pervasiveness of Google’s search engine is changing our brains.

Delbert says Google is making a big difference on how human’s think. It’s not the first innovation that has impacted human memory but it’s the most recent one and it’s changing us daily. Delbert will outline how Google has changed what we remember, how we remember events and also how we use information.


If you’ve ever reminisced with people about shared experiences you’ve probably found yourself listening to a friend’s version of events and been surprised by how different it is from the version you remember.

Psychology professor Dr. Amy Hedrick is going to focus on the ways in which we learn to tell our stories and how our conversations with others about the past can strengthen and elaborate not only our memories, but also our sense of self.

Hedrick specializes in how social exchanges influence the development of children’s cognitive skills in multiple contexts and the causal link between young children’s exposure to elaborative language during and after a novel experience and subsequent recall.


English professor Dr. Jennifer Heller’s session will be interactive. Participants will bring an object that reminds them of a personal story. Heller will expound on how humans excel at triggering memories and narratives through the use of personal totems as the audience participates by telling the tales inspired by their chosen items.

It takes very little—a photo, a stone, a scent—to recover the rush of emotive recall that accompanied the acquisition of the object. We can make virtually anything into a souvenir whose function is to help us remember the stories that form our own histories.


Generations have common historical touchstones. You can get a good estimate of someone’s age by evaluating their answers to the following questions: Where were you when:
Martin Luther King was assassinated?
Men first landed on the moon?
The Space Shuttle Challenger exploded?
The Twin Towers fell?

Osama bin Laden was killed?

Remembering “Where you were when” can be a key indicator for who you were, who you are and how far you’ve come. History Professor Dr. Veronica McComb will discuss the way we orient ourselves by creating a kind of time capsule of memories that we share as oral histories. She calls it the transformative power of collective experience and collective memory. She will examine the art, artistry, and limitations of creating collective memories through oral history.

For more information and to register go to or call Dr. Rand Brandes at (828) 328-7077.

Posted by LRUNews under LRU News | No Comments

horizontal line

© 2012 Lenoir-Rhyne University