Images of traumatic history : the visual rhetorics of Holocaust / Daniel F. Schowalter.
There is a conspicuous disparity between discourses engaging the European Holocaust (the Shoah) and those engaging the American Indian Holocaust within the popular imagination. Documentary film and photography enjoy a special license and authority to make historical claims regarding these traumas but always function within a rhetorical economy consisting of interrelationships between the constructs of history, power, and images. This project argues that there is a direct link between the visibility of a traumatic history and the legitimacy that it is granted as holocaust. For example, the Shoah is a highly visible trauma that constitutes and is constituted by a rich and coherent imagery that seems to access trauma effortlessly and even eloquently. The imagery of the American Indian Holocaust, however, is less visible and coherent and therefore it cannot claim a comparable level of legitimacy. This project explores the forms and functions of documentary images, how this level of visibility is attained and denied, how trauma is accessed and how it is emptied, and how images write, rewrite, and erase histories. Within this particular context the project concludes by sketching some recurring and fundamental constituents of a visual rhetoric including the polysemy, self-reflexivity, and fragmentation of the image as well as the value of a critical paradigm that emphasizes a visual-rhetorical economy over a visual culture.
Record last modified: 2018-04-24 16:01:00
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