Witnessing the Disaster: Essays on Representation and the Holocaust

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Michael Bernard-Donals, Richard Glejzer
Univ of Wisconsin Press, Dec 15, 2003 - History - 324 pages
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    Witnessing the Disaster examines how histories, films, stories and novels, memorials and museums, and survivor testimonies involve problems of witnessing: how do those who survived, and those who lived long after the Holocaust, make clear to us what happened? How can we distinguish between more and less authentic accounts? Are histories more adequate descriptors of the horror than narrative? Does the susceptibility of survivor accounts to faulty memory and the vestiges of trauma make them any more or less useful as instruments of witness? And how do we authenticate their accuracy without giving those who deny the Holocaust a small but dangerous foothold?
    These essayists aim to move past the notion that the Holocaust as an event defies representation. They look at specific cases of Holocaust representation and consider their effect, their structure, their authenticity, and the kind of knowledge they produce. Taken together they consider the tension between history and memory, the vexed problem of eyewitness testimony and its status as evidence, and the ethical imperatives of Holocaust representation.
 

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Contents

Introduction
3
I The Epistemology of Witness
21
1 The Holocaust as Vicarious Past
23
2 The Language of Dollars
46
3 A Pedagogy of Trauma or a Crisis of Cynicism
75
4 The Erotics of Auschwitz
90
5 Maus and the Epistemology of Witness
125
II Memory Authenticity and the Jewish Question
139
8 Mormon Literature and the Irreducible Other
183
9 Beyond the Question of Authenticity
196
III The Ethical Imperative
219
10 Maurice Blanchot
221
11 Shoah and the Origins of Teaching
231
Pedagogy between Redemption and Sublimity
245
13 Approaching Limit Events
262
Contributors
307

6 Promiscuous Reading
141
7 Humboldts Gift and Jewish American SelfFashioning After Auschwitz
162

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Page 25 - Nora fears, purely in history. ln my reading, postmemory is distinguished from memory by generational distance and from history by deep personal connection. Postmemory is a powerful and very particular form of memory precisely because its connection to its object or source is mediated not through recollection but through an imaginative investment and creation.

About the author (2003)

Michael Bernard-Donals is professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Richard Glejzer is associate professor of English at North Central College in Illinois. They are coeditors of Between Witness and Testimony.

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