Conflict, Violence and Memory NUBS 4.06
Jul 06, 2023 09:00 - 10:30(Europe/London)
20230706T0900 20230706T1030 Europe/London 5.19. Holocaust Literature NUBS 4.06 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023
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Holocaust Identity and Common Frontiers: Articulating Jewishness across World Literature
Individual paperConflict, Violence and Memory 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/05 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/06 22:00:00 UTC
The Holocaust and its aftermaths have been consistently discussed in an ever-growing body of literature as well as in a wide range of languages. However, the universality of the event and the question of whether we can actually speak of a global community that is brought together by literary works that connect to it remain contested (Assmann and Conrad 2010; Dreyfus and Stoetzler 2011; Radonić 2012). The concept of Weltliteratur as coined by Goethe (c. 1827) and then elucidated by Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto (1848) appears to be of use when analysing the circulation of Holocaust literature, since it enables us to critically address issues of reception, translatability, and intertextuality as far as literary works that permeate borders are concerned. In this case, three canonical Holocaust texts will be taken into consideration, paying special attention to the ways in which they address the protagonists' experiences, sense of Jewishness and psyche: House of Dolls (1953) by Ka-tzetnik, The Gates of the Forest (1964) by Elie Wiesel, and At the Mind's Limits (1966) by Jean Améry. This paper ultimately seeks to assess and compare different approaches to the introspective and fictional recounting of Holocaust experiences, as well as to determine whether there are narratives that albeit sufficiently particular for the victims, have the potential to transform Holocaust ordeals into universally intelligible and relatable texts, contributing to the creation of a shared memory.
Nagore Palomares
Research Assistant, Universidad De Alcalá
María Jesús Fernández-Gil
Universidad De Alcalá
Shadows of the Holocaust or the Agency of Literature in the Work of Gonçalo M.Tavares
Individual paperConflict, Violence and Memory 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/05 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/06 22:00:00 UTC
The dehumanization of the concentration camps and the wielding of totalitarian power that characterise the space inhabited by the figures imagined by the Portuguese author Gonçalo M. Tavares (1970) ineluctably evoke memories of the Jewish genocide, leaving us no choice but to discern in his work echoes, or rather shadows of the Holocaust. Furthermore, the highly symptomatic and persistent presence of German names – men, women, places, toponomy in general - in which, explicitly or implicitly, the memory of the greatest catastrophe of the twentieth-century is inscribed, sustains this reading. However, at the same time as they impose this historical and cultural anchor, Tavares' texts detach the reader from that engagement, allowing them to be read in another time and place, so that the mediated memories find a community of readers who welcome them as their own.
            In this talk I propose to read some texts of Gonçalo M. Tavares following the profiles of his characters,  the spaces and environments in which they operate, and identify in them the memories of the Holocaust, mediated and remediated, between generations and cultures, through Literature and the Arts. In fact, Tavares' fictional worlds and the memory of the arbitrary violence they represent not only testify to the effects and ethical dimension of the mediation and remediation of memories (Erll/Rigney 2009), as well as the possibility of adopting someone else's memories (Landsberg 2004) and finally the possibility of creating a transnational and transcultural community of memories that adopted the Holocaust as its foundational myth (A.Assmann 2014).
Luisa Afonso Soares
Associate Professor, Faculdade De Letras Da Universidade De Lisboa
Harnessing Vernacular Memory: The Holocaust by Bullets in Ralph Rothmann's Der Gott jenes Sommers
Individual paperConflict, Violence and Memory 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/05 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/06 22:00:00 UTC
Since 2010, there has been a marked increase in German-language literary texts thematising the history of the Holocaust beyond the concentration camp. Particularly noticeable has been the renewed focus on so-called "face-to-face" mass killing, both in the context of Eastern Europe and during the final phase of the war. As the history of the so-called "Holocaust by bullets" and "Endphaseverbrechen" continue to garner more sustained attention in German-language literature, authors are finding new ways to make this history immediate and relevant to contemporary audiences. At the same time, some are exploring why and how this dimension of the Nazi genocide has remained marginal within the cultural memory of the non-Jewish majority. In his 2018 novel Der Gott jenes Sommers (The God of that Summer), set  in the countryside around Kiel during the summer of 1944, Ralf Rothmann reflects on the audibility and inaudibility (Colvin) of different histories in the German context by bringing the Second World War into productive dialogue with the Thirty Years' War. In particular, he foregrounds the relative strength of memory tropes pertaining to the Thirty Years' War, and "face-to-face" violence and killing in that context, implicitly juxtaposing them with the relative absence of similarly established imagery related to the mass shooting campaigns.
While the Nazi genocide in the East is unknown to Luise, the child-protagonist of the novel, allusions to mass killing campaigns in the Baltic and other contextual clues mean that the reader is hyperaware of what is unfolding immediately outside the narrative frame of the text. Chapters set in Luise's home village during the Thirty Years' War underline this strained textual silence by foregrounding forms of violence that are relevant to both historical contexts. The villagers in the 16th century suffer under occupation and are tortured, robbed and murdered with egregious brutality, awakening associations with the Nazi occupation of Eastern Europe; Rothmann's depictions of these acts also draw on symbols associated with the Holocaust (such as the collection of human hair) to underscore the multidirectional (Rothberg) intent of these sequences. 
At stake in this novel is not only an effort to articulate the implication of Germans on the "home front" in the genocide and extractive occupation policies of the Eastern Front but the limited investment of the German public today in confronting that implication. The ready grievability (Butler) of 16th century historical subjects – expressed in the availability of symbols, tropes and narratives to remember the Thirty Years' War – stands in striking contrast to the representative lacunae that surround "face-to-face" mass killing in the Nazi period. In this paper, I will discuss how Rothmann achieves this implicit critique of contemporary cultural memory and explore how mnemonic tropes can be used to open new perspectives. 
Jenny Watson
Chancellor's Fellow, University Of Edinburgh
Universidad de Alcalá
Research assistant
Universidad de Alcalá
Associate Professor
Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa
Chancellor's Fellow
University of Edinburgh
Ben Gurion University of the Negev
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