Regarding the Holocaust : politics of hermeneutics in four contemporary Holocaust films / by Terri Ginsberg.
Ever since the introduction of Holocaust newsreel footage into the postwar public sphere, cinematic inscriptions of this catastrophic event have followed a relatively consistent hermeneutic pattern by which the historical basis, epistemological grounds, and materialist crux of its social intelligibility are sophistically elided or casuistically reduced to mystical and religious, if oftentimes secularized elaborations. Regarding the Holocaust traces this essentially privatizing hermeneutic pattern across four Holocaust films whose public receptions as well as cinematic structures make them paradigm cases for this claim. By way of a dissertation-length theorization of a radically secular Judaic hermeneutic, however, analyses of Korczak, The Quarrel, Entre Nous, and Balagan are comprehended in terms not only of cine-structural (semiotic, narratological) and reception theoretical (ideologico-tropological, cultural critical) discourses and methodologies, but of larger public and academic, including international political, controversies over Holocaust history and knowledgeability themselves, especially as the prevalence, paradigmatic structures, and contestational axes of these controversies, which are imbricated in various modes of "Judeo-Christian" phenomenology, have helped steer contemporary and recent Holocaust film criticism, not to mention production, towards the propagation of pro-Western globalization efforts and offensives. Interrogating the traditional theological, existential-ontological, deconstructionist-poststructuralist, and postmodern philosophical interpolations of these films, their critical receptions, and their political-historical contexts, the dissertation argues that the mystical and religious, if secularized elaboration of the Holocaust in films and concurrent or related texts on Holocaust history and culture is exemplary indication of a larger societal turn away from the fostering of collective theoretical praxes toward more private, if globally extensive, modes of critique whose extenuating effects are less the intellectual understanding of Holocaust film culture and scholarship--including the intrinsically related issues of antisemitism, anti-semitism, racism, ethno-nationalism, (hetero)sexism and class struggle---than the inculcation of subjects who will submit to social systemic conditions for which such an understanding is resisted on ironically moral grounds--the same which are now implicated in the contemporary pandemic of holocausts and other genocides worldwide.
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