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Shaping Losses Cultural Memory and the Holocaust cover
  • ISBN: 9780252069499
  • ISBN10: 0252069498

Shaping Losses Cultural Memory and the Holocaust

by Julia Epstein

  • List Price: $32.00
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Univ of Illinois Pr
  • Publish date: 06/01/2001
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Taking the example of the decimation of European Jewry during the Nazi era, Shaping Losses explores the effect of traumatic loss on identity and confronts the problem of transforming trauma into cultural memory.

This eloquent volume examines how memoirs, films, photographs, art, and literature, as well as family conversations and personal remembrances, embody the impulse to preserve what is destroyed. The contributors -- all distinguished women scholars, most of them survivors or daughters of survivors -- examine classic memorializations such as Claude Lanzmann's film Shoah and Roman Vishniac's photographs of prewar Jews as well as several less-well-known works. They also address ways in which children of survivors of the Holocaust -- and of other catastrophic traumas -- struggle with inherited or vicarious memory, striving to come to terms with losses that centrally define them although they experience them only indirectly.

Shaping Losses considers the limitations of Holocaust representations and testimonies that capture shards of the experience but are necessarily selective and reductive. Contributors discuss artistic efforts to "preserve the rawness" of memory and to resist redemptive closure in Holocaust narratives and public memorials. They also probe the nature of memory and of trauma, studying the use of language within and outside a traumatic context such as Auschwitz and pinpointing the qualities that make traumatic memory ineffable, untransmit-table, and perhaps unreliable.

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