Struggling with the language of night : the development and application of a postmodern lens for the teaching, reading, and interpretation of Holocaust literature / Michael J. Martin.
In this dissertation, I develop a postmodern lens that when applied to the study of Holocaust literature—memoir, fiction, young adult literature, and drama—helps one to develop new questions concerning the study of Holocaust literature. Particularly, this lens problematizes the study of Holocaust work for the scholar, pedagogue and student. While it has been traditionally argued that postmodern theoretics can only negatively impact the study of Holocaust literature, this work strives to display how this theoretical system can positively impact this study. Specifically, the lens that I have developed moves the individual past the conclusion that the Holocaust remain an ineffable event, and instead recognizes such larger issues as the development of a Holocaust ethical sense, the transmission of survivor testimony in a fractured world, the complications associated with transmitting such graphic horror to the young adult world, and, finally, the use of dramaturgical techniques to “display” events that are noted to be untranslatable. The dissertation is divided into three sections. In the first section, I argue that there exists a possibility for the development of a postmodern interpretive lens in relation to Holocaust study and display how the work of Martin Heidegger and Paul de Man, two forefathers of postmodern theoretics, actually assists in the development of this lens. Furthermore. I define how my entire work will make use of postmodern theory by defining my understanding of postmodernism. Section two is comprised of four chapters, each of which interrogates a different genre of Holocaust literature and displays how, when one makes use of postmodernist theory, innovative questions arise from the genre discussion that, I argue, have long been neglected. Finally, in section three of the work, I offer a historical trace of Holocaust pedagogy and provide an analytical discussion of a course I have taught on Holocaust narrative.
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