Summary and Info
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. This book discusses the Holocaust in the context of contemporary theory and philosophy as well as the relationship between literary representation and trauma. The essays in this book examine the ways in which writing and representation of the Holocaust--in survivor testimonies, fiction, film, museums and memorials--involve problems inherent to the act of witnessing such as the relationship between what one sees and what can't be seen or remembered and between what is said and what cannot be said. The essays in this collection fall into four sections: the first three explore the issues of witness and testimony, the problem of ethics, and the complexities of memory. The concluding section examines the pedagogical implications of these issues, with particular attention devoted to what, if anything, we hope to teach when presenting students with histories and representations of the Shoah. The essays are thought provoking--challenging our accepted notions of the Shoah and the teaching of the Holocaust.
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