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shattering the looking glass: navigating new paths through the Holocaust postmemory landscape

cindy's draft project

Cindy Tekobbe

on 24 March 2013

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Transcript of shattering the looking glass: navigating new paths through the Holocaust postmemory landscape

shattering the looking glass navigating new paths through the Holocaust postmemory landscape some problems of postmemory Marianne Hirsch At stake is not only a personal/familial/generational sense of ownership and protectiveness but also an evolving theoretical discussion about the workings of trauma, memory, and intergenerational acts of transfer, a discussion actively taking place in numerous important contexts outside of Holocaust studies. More urgently and passionately, those of us working on memory and transmission have argued over the ethics and the aesthetics of remembrance in the aftermath of catastrophe. How, in our present, do we regard and recall what Susan Sontag (2003) has so powerfully described as the “pain of others?” What do we owe the victims? How can we best carry their stories forward without appropriating them, without unduly calling attention to ourselves, and without, in turn, having our own stories displaced by them? How are we implicated in the crimes? Can the memory of genocide be transformed into action and resistance? Time is corrosive and memory is a personal construct rather than an evidentiary body of fact and film. Distance from actual events allows a kind of (linguistic) concentrating and focusing within the spheres of academic research. "The Generation of Post Memory" At the same time, distance blurs vivid detail and, "reflection on this issues within the discourse of Auschwitz provides a different mental reaction and a different rhetoric of response: a different psycho-physiological regime of existence increasingly estranged from the past, makes the memory of it increasingly ritualized, abstract, instrumental, so that a stunning question finally arises: 'And did it in fact happen?'" (Weiser 209)) adorno So, on the one hand, the Holocaust is dissected and studied in detail for clues to human thought, identity, agency and reason. And on the other hand, time is in the process of numbing all wounds. We remember as a function of scholarship and forget as a function of citizenship. "For countless people it seemed that the coldness of social alienation had been done away with thanks to the warmth of togetherness, no matter how manipulated and contrived" (Adorno 95). holocaust as popular culture "... the Event - can seem very far away, an increasingly abstract reference, a pretext for strangely gratifying emotional gestures ... In other words, in our increasing preoccupation with it, the Holocaust has become a cultural phenomenon" (Hoffman 157) "This combination of fascination and partial knowledge, reverence and naivete, can lead to odd distortions of perspective and excesses of sentiment" (Hoffman 157) eva hoffman Jay David Bolter
Richard Grusin remediation as culture work telescoping of time
representation moves to new media
experience over evidence where fact is contested ... what does "facticity" matter
"fictions" are controversial even though they are rhetorical moves to represent the unrepresentable (Weiser)
witnessing becomes an act between the media and the viewer commodification appropriation fetishism masculine gaze the holocaust as a women's catastrophe double victims fascist context motherhood as patriarchal trope motherhood as death sentence theology tends to emphasize the experience of motherhood over holistic womanhood hyperfeminization and phallologocentrism we have (successully) represented the holocaust as a masculine catastrophe master narrative
emphasis on situating within history
male gaze as finality the postmodern parade foucault baudrillarad death of agent does our need to document (dominate/possess/categorize/codify) apply a kind of false sense of knowability on the unknowable and unsayable? women are life we need a corrective to the homogenization and silencing of modernity


the hopeless paralysis of postmodernity

if we are to answer the question how can we make change? feminist face

feminist gaze oblique emphasizes the experience over evidence ritual storytelling over linear narratives upend this master narrative and
recontextualize the question agency in
events create linguistic pastiche
mosaic/ mashup
craft ?why does it matter? there is a reason sb1070 is wrong

it is not wrong because it is unconstitutional

and it is unenforceable

and it is mean-spirited

and it violates traditions of sanctuary and the stranger

and it is anti-american

and it targets our poorest and most vulnerable neighbors it is wrong because it reprsents a complex, blame-oriented, institutionalized othering. this is the scaffolding of hate.

the scaffolding that is too easily transformed into the scaffolding of death. it is wrong on an epic (epoch) level and worse still it echoes the familiar rhetoric "we will not comply"
Jim wallace situated within a (by now) well-worn cycle bahktin and the dialogic (Patterson 8) (Hawkesworth 46-7)
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