Speaking the unspeakable : identity after the Holocaust / by Naomi Mandel.
After the Holocaust, debates about the ethics and aesthetics of representing atrocity, horror and pain have gone through several phases, and a rhetoric of the unspeakable, most prominently in the form of an emphasis on trauma and the differend, has profoundly marked contemporary critical theory and its engagement with cultural difference and articulations of identity. But what is determined to be unspeakable, and what negotiations and compromises inform this determination? Examining literary and cinematic representations of identity in contemporary US literature and culture, specifically identities that define themselves in terms of a history of unspeakable suffering, I ask this question: what does a rhetoric of the unspeakable enable writers, speakers or critics to do? My explorations of this question address the disturbing complicity of a rhetoric of the unspeakable with political power and cultural hegemony. I focus on the assumptions and agendas that are at play in the construction of a history, an aesthetics and an ethos that is based on the unquestioned (because unquestionable) power inherent in the cultural construct of the unspeakable.
Record last modified: 2018-05-24 14:02:00
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