In the first Project, “El concepto de la huella: delimitación, estudio y aplicación a la literatura reciente en lengua inglesa” (Ref. FFI2009-09242) (2010-2012), we proposed to study and analyse the notion of the ‘trace’ as an apt critical tool to discuss contemporary literature. Firstly, we examined the theoretical underpinnings of this concept. Secondly, we focused on contemporary engagements with the past (for example, neo-Victorianism), as well as the recent upsurge of interest in the spectral quality of history/memory, using the ‘trace’ as main theoretical framework. Thirdly, we investigated the ways in which the notion of the trace serves well the purposes of disciplinary boundary crossing as seen in the relationships between literature and other fields (science and medicine) and visual arts (especially photography and painting). In short, we offered an in-depth examination of the relevance of the ‘trace’ in critical theory and its applicability to recent literary works, written by Anglo-American writers, to consider how postmodernism is being challenged from different literary and critical quarters.
In the second Project, “Nuevos parámetros críticos en torno al concepto de la huella y su aplicación a la literatura reciente en lengua inglesa” (Ref. FFI2013-44154-P) (2014-2017), we focused on the quality of the trace as a physical and tangible object. This research into the materiality of the trace was carried out along three main lines: on the one hand, the trace as an impression, as a material object crucial for the reactivation of memories, which connects with the so-called “Thing theory”, and with museum studies and phenomenology. On the other hand, we analysed the intersection of the trace with food as a mnemonic object, and with illness and ageing in their relationship with the processes of memory. Finally, in the context of the recovery of the subject and the ethical turn in artistic production, as a visible trace, we deepened into the implications of the conceptualisations of the trace by Paul Ricoeur and Emmanuel Levinas, suggested in the previous project. All this lead us to deal with a key issue in the current literary and critical context, for which the trace, so our contention goes, plays a crucial role: the questioning of the validity of the postmodern paradigm, especially in terms of the changing conception of nostalgia in relation with the past and memory as tangible presences.