Negotiating the divides : how adult children of Holocaust survivors remember their engagment with the popular culture of the 1950s / by Bruria Lindenberg Cooperman.
This dissertation examines how Jewish children of Holocaust survivors (COS), growing up in the 1950s in a small city in Ontario engaged with popular culture. Set within the context of a predominantly English-speaking Christian environment, this culture frequently did not represent them. It often excluded their knowledge and lived experiences and thus forced them to be silent. Utilizing an oral history approach, nine children of survivors were interviewed about their elementary school years and growing up in the fifties. The history of postwar Canada serves as the framework for how adults remember the meanings they made of their childhood experiences and how they incorporated these stories into the personal scripts of their lives. Their memories of childhood reflect the discourses that shaped them, discourses that are situated in the language and the images of a society and within the wider historical and social structure of that society. Individuals, however, do not fit into neat categories. Positioning their stories within the larger context of postwar Canada, while also accommodating the diverse meanings they made from their historical positions required a multi-disciplinary orientation. Therefore, a historical framework anchors the narratives and serves as a backdrop for the personal childhood memories of children of survivors. Specifically, the thesis draws on four areas of literature: the literature on children of survivors; cultural studies, which helps make sense of the variety of experiences, their relational character and the discourses through which they operate; various historical literatures which establish the historical context for the remembered accounts; and anti-racist education which provides some of the tools for analysis. Through their oral testimonies, we begin to see how, as children, they entered, mediated and often transformed the representations of television and the movies to create their own subjective and social possibilities. Their “narratives of redemption” enabled them to negotiate the divides between the representations of themselves and the representations of the popular culture around them.
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