Kevin Burns: In the Memory Palace of Thomas Merton

Date(s) - May 1, 2017
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

SFU Harbour Centre (7th floor)

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Co-sponsored by SFU’s J.S. Woodsworth Chair in the Humanities & Thomas Merton Society of Canada


This live documentary presentation explores Merton and memory. Visiting seven “rooms” of remembering we will encounter Merton’s shifting ideas on memory and how we remember him today. Memory is a fragile network of connections: virtual, conjectural, and – increasingly – digital. Ideas from classical times and contemporary memory-building techniques will guide us.  

This is a hybrid presentation that takes the form of a “live” radio documentary, an illustrated lecture with art and photography and evocative music transitions. It explores the preoccupation that Thomas Merton had with memory and how his published works form an extended “remembered” autobiography. His focus on memory reveals much about Merton the artist and also Merton the Cistercian. The presentation sets Merton’s preoccupations with memory in the context of the different memory building ideas and practices within the monastic tradition that he was part of. Think if it as a live “Ideas” program you haven’t heard yet.

The presentation is just over an hour, leaving a time for Q&A to follow.


Kevin Burns is a Canadian writer, editor, and award-winning freelance radio documentary producer (CBC Radio’s Ideas). Previous ITMS presentations include: Beyond the Shadow and the Disguise (1999) and Invisible Light (2001). He is the co-author with Michael W. Higgins ofGenius Born of Anguish – The Life and Legacy of Henri Nouwen (2012). His most recent publication, Henri Nouwen: His Life and Spirit, was published by Franciscan Media in 2016.

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