A Fountain for Memory: The Trevi Flow of Power and Transcultural Performance

Pam Krist

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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In memory studies much research on monuments focuses on those with traumatic or controversial associations whilst others can be overlooked. The thesis explores this gap and seeks to supplement the critical understanding of a populist monuments as a nexus for cultural remembering. The Trevi Fountain in Rome is chosen because it is a conduit for the flow of multivalent imagery, ideological manipulation, and ever-evolving performances of memory, from design plans to mediated representations.

The thesis begins by locating the historical pre-material and material presences of the Fountain, establishing this contextual consideration as contributory to memory studies. It then surveys the field of theory to build a necessarily flexible conceptual framework for researching the Fountain which, given the movement and sound of water and the coin-throwing ritual, differs from a static monument in its memorial connotations. The interpretations of the illusory Trevi design and its myths are explored before employing a cross-disciplinary approach to the intertextuality of its presences and its performative potential in art, literature, film, music, advertising and on the Internet. The thesis concludes with questions about the digital Trevi and dilution of memory.

Gathering strength throughout is the premise of the Fountain as a transcultural vehicle of dominant ideologies - from the papal to commercial, the Grand Tour to cyber tourism - seeking to control remembering and forgetting. Sometimes these are undermined by the social and inventive practices of memory. Discourses of power, often gendered, that draw on Trevi imagery and its potent association with water mythology, are exemplified. These underscore the uncertainties of memory during the production of self-serving suitable pasts. The Fountain is an indicator of ethical implications for future memory as to how the past is shaped to meet present needs. It is always a reflector of the multiplicity of memory practices.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Cruickshank, Ruth, Supervisor
  • Pieri, Giuliana, Supervisor
Award date1 Apr 2015
Publication statusUnpublished - 2015


  • cultural memory
  • cross-disciplinary
  • transcultural
  • individual/collective memory
  • political power
  • monuments
  • intermediality
  • Intertextuality
  • performativity
  • place and space
  • story-telling
  • water mythology
  • art and memory
  • literature and memory
  • film and memory
  • music and memory
  • advertising and memory
  • Internet and memory

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