Witnessing from a distance : postwar literary representations of the Holocaust / by Miriam Carolin Raethel.
This thesis concerns itself with the possibilities and limits of witnessing the Holocaust from a distance. It analyzes the ways in which the notion of distance – temporal, geographical, linguistic, and aesthetic – influences, shapes, and alters the act of bearing witness to a remote historical event, which, because of its enormity, seemingly defies the act of witnessing and thus of representation This study investigates the long-lasting impact of the Holocaust on subsequent generations, particularly on third-generation descendants of victims and perpetrators, and explores how the traumatic legacy of the Holocaust locates new forms of representation within the context of postmodernism, which, because of its emphasis on fragmentation, on the loss of teleology and causality, and its suspicion of master narratives, offers innovative and experimental representational strategies for what has commonly been regarded as unrepresentable. By focussing on the figure of the distant witness, that is, on members of postwar generations, this thesis highlights the representational complexities prompted by the complication of attempting to remember and to represent an event whose very extremities and incomprehensibilities render it, in itself, unrepresentable. Investigating the ways in which memory is constructed and in turn represented, and how this representation, or non-representation, of traumatic memory affects cultural and collective identities, and the ethical responsibility for ongoing remembrance, this thesis ultimately explores the ways in which the notion of distance, as an integral part of the act of witnessing, influences, determines, and shapes how a culture situates itself in relation to its past.
Record last modified: 2018-05-25 09:44:00
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