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Generational representations of the Holocaust : trauma, memory, and the imagination / by Karein Kirsten Goertz.

Publication | Library Call Number: D804.195 .G64 1997

Historical authenticy and imaginative restraint are commonly upheld as representational guidelines for Holocaust literature. Current research in historiography and psychiatry acknowledges, however, that a stubborn insistence on factual accuracy, logic, and narrative cohesion can be an impediment to recognizing the emotional truth inherent in narratives about trauma. This dissertation maintains that imaginative style and description are integral to the authentic and emotionally truthful representation of the Holocaust as both lived and inherited traumatic experience. In the comparative analysis of autobiographical and fictional texts by adult and child survivors, as well as the children born after the war, it becomes apparent that while a fictionalizing mechanism is operative in all of the texts, it serves a distinctly different role for each generation. For the first generation, it provides a means to transcribe lived traumatic memories which, unlike normal memories, have been encoded in the form of bodily sensations and iconic images, rather than in verbal and linear narratives. For the younger generation of survivors, it represents the imaginative filter or screen through which they, as children, processed horrific events and must now reactivate in order to locate the real. Finally, for those who have no direct experience with the Holocaust, the imagination provides the only way to assimilate, reconstruct, and possess an inherited past they did not live themselves. By providing an accounting of transgenerational differences in the nature of memory and the use of the imagination for survivors of different generations, this dissertation argues against the binary logic in the ongoing debate about historical versus imaginative representations of the Holocaust.

Goertz, Karein Kirsten, 1966-
Record last modified: 2018-05-22 11:47:00
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