Between Witness and Testimony: The Holocaust and the Limits of Representation

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SUNY Press, Oct 19, 2001 - History - 188 pages
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The Holocaust presents an immense challenge to those who would represent it or teach it through fiction, film, or historical accounts. Even the testimonies of those who were there provide only a glimpse of the disaster to those who were not. Between Witness and Testimony investigates the difficulties inherent in the obligation to bear witness to events that seem not just unspeakable but also unthinkable. The authors examine films, fictional narratives, survivor testimonies, and the museums at Yad Vashem and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in order to establish an ethics of Holocaust representation. Traversing the disciplines of history, philosophy, religious studies, and literary and cultural theory, the authors suggest that while no account adequately provides access to what Adorno called “the extremity that eludes the concept,” we are still obliged to testify, to put into language what history cannot contain.
 

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Contents

Sublimity Redemption Witness
1
History and the Disaster The Impossibility of Writing the Shoah
23
The Epistemology of Witness Survivor Narratives and the Holocaust
49
Literatures of Presence and Absence Borowski Appelfeld Ozick
79
Film and the Shoah The Limits of Seeing
103
Museums and the Imperative of Memory History Sublimity and the Divine
131
Conclusion The Ethics of Teaching after Auschwitz
157
Bibliography
175
Index
183
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About the author (2001)

Michael Bernard-Donals is Professor of English and Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin, and the author of The Practice of Theory: Rhetoric, Knowledge, and Pedagogy in the Academy and Mikhail Bakhtin: Between Phenomenology and Marxism.

Richard Glejzer is Assistant Professor of English at North Central College. They are the coeditors of Rhetoric in an Antifoundational World: Language, Culture, and Pedagogy.

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