Disappearing Traces: Holocaust Testimonials, Ethics, and Aesthetics

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University of Washington Press, 2012 - History - 275 pages
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In Disappearing Traces, Dorota Glowacka examines the tensions between the ethical and aesthetic imperatives in literary, artistic, and philosophical works about the Holocaust, in a search for new ways to understand the traumatic past and its impact on the present. She engages with the work of leading 20th-century philosophers and theorists, including Levinas, Benjamin, Lyotard, and Derrida, to consider the role of language in the construction and transmission of traumatic memories; the relation between self-identity and the act of bearing witness; and the ethical implications of representing trauma.

Glowacka's work draws on a wide range of discourses and disciplines, bringing into conversation various genres of writing and artistic production. It reveals the need to find innovative idioms and new means of engaging with the past, and to create alliances between different disciplines and modes of representing the past that transform and transcend existing paradigms of representation.

"This book is very profound. Every time Glowacka introduces a major thinker into her consideration of the questions at hand she adds a much deeper understanding not only of the question but also of the thinker. This is a must read for Holocaust scholars and teachers." -David Patterson, Hillel Feinberg Chair in Holocaust Studies, University of Texas at Dallas

"Dorota Glowacka's impassioned and eloquent dialogue with the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas makes a persuasive case for translating his ethics into a poetics (what she calls "poethics") that powerfully illuminates post- Holocaust philosophy, literature, and visual art." -Karyn Ball, author of Disciplining the Holocaust

Dorota Glowacka is professor of humanities in the Contemporary Studies Program at the University of King's College, Halifax, Canada. She is the coeditor of Between Ethics and Aesthetics: Crossing the Boundaries and Imaginary Neighbors: Mediating Polish-Jewish Relations after the Holocaust.

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