The alternate universe : language, death, and memory in the memoirs of atrocity / by Shazia Ali.
The Holocaust memoirs have had a shaping impact on twentieth and twenty-first-century historical and philosophical studies. My dissertation expands these studies by defining the Holocaust memoir as a literary text, considering its literary contributions to Holocaust literature. The dissertation addresses some of the recurring elements of Holocaust literature, such as the loss of language, the mutilation of memory, the silence of God, and the effects of shock and fear on children and women. It claims that each of these elements is an integral, literary characteristic of the Holocaust memoir. In addition to creating a literary framework for the Holocaust memoir, my dissertation establishes a link among literary criticism, moral dilemma, and the necessity of approaching the art of the Shoah from an interdisciplinary perspective. By redefining some of the characteristic features of the memoir revolving around the Shoah, it analyzes the literary structures of five major works of this genre that have received literary acclaim by scholars and the public alike: Aranka Siegal, Upon the Head of a Goat, Livia Bitton-Jackson, I Have Lived a Thousand Years, Magda Denes, Castles Burning, Sara Bernstein, The Seamstress, and Béla Zsolt, Nine Suitcases. Considering Lawrence Langer and Alvin Rosenfeld.s artistic concepts regarding Holocaust literature, this dissertation uses similar approaches to the Holocaust memoirs, arguing that these works are essentially literary responses to the void created by the Shoah. Finally, my dissertation demonstrates that this void is the source of the mental anguish the memoirist suffers from, with each memoir closing with theme of the loss of hope for liberation, and the creation of an alternate universe, where history has to be redefined.
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