Recent publications associated with the Transnational Holocaust Memory cluster include:
Witnessing, Memory, Poetics. H. G. Adler and W. G. Sebald, edited by Helen Finch and Lynn L. Wolff (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2014).
Since 1945, authors and scholars have intensely debated what form literary fiction about the Holocaust should take. The works of H. G. Adler (1910-1988) and W. G. Sebald (1944-2001), two modernist scholar-poets who settled in England but never met, present new ways of reconceptualizing the nature of witnessing, literary testimony, and the possibility of a “poetics” after Auschwitz. Adler, a Czech Jew who survived Theresienstadt and Auschwitz, was a prolific writer of prose and poetry, but his work remained little known until Sebald, possibly the most celebrated German writer of recent years, cited it in his 2001 work, Austerlitz. Since then, a rediscovery of Adler has been under way. This volume of essays by international experts on Adler and Sebald investigates the connections between the two writers to reveal a new hybrid paradigm of writing about the Holocaust that advances our understanding of the relationship between literature, historiography, and autobiography. In doing so, the volume also reflects on the wider literary-political implications of Holocaust representation, demonstrating the shifting norms in German-language “Holocaust literature.
My Shadow in Dachau: Poems by Victims and Survivors of The Concentration Camp, edited by Stuart Taberner and Dorothea Heiser (Rochester: Camden House 2014).
The concentration camp at Dachau was the first established by the Nazis, opened shortly after Hitler came to power in 1933. It first held political prisoners, but later also forced laborers, Soviet POWs, Jews, and other “undesirables.” More than 30,000 deaths were documented there, with many more unrecorded. In the midst of the horror, some inmates turned to poetry to provide comfort, to preserve their sense of humanity, or to document their experiences. Some were or would later become established poets; others were prominent politicians or theologians; still others were ordinary men and women. This anthology contains 68 poems by 32 inmates of Dachau, in 10 different original languages and facing-page English translation, along with short biographies. A prologue by Walter Jens and an introduction by Dorothea Heiser from the original German edition are joined here by a foreword by Stuart Taberner of the University of Leeds. All the poems, having arisen in the experience or memory of extreme human suffering, are testimonies to the persistence of the humanity and creativity of the individual.
Holocaust Impiety in Literature, Popular Music and Film by Matthew Boswell (New York and Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).
Holocaust Impiety in Literature, Popular Music and Film is an account of provocative and controversial representations of the Holocaust. Many well-known artists have attracted criticism for approaching the Nazi genocide in ways that have been deemed ill-conceived or offensive. Examples include Sylvia Plath’s notorious claim that ‘Every woman adores a Fascist’ in her poem ‘Daddy’ and songs such as ‘Belsen Was a Gas’ by the Sex Pistols. The Holocaust has even provided material for stand-up comedy and gory Hollywood blockbusters such as Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. In this book, Matthew Boswell argues that while such works are often shocking, the value of shock should not be lightly dismissed in the context of the Holocaust. Drawing on the philosopher Gillian Rose’s criticisms of what she termed ‘Holocaust piety’ and its claim that the only possible response to the Holocaust is a respectful silence, this book considers how irreverent works of fiction play an important role in shaping our contemporary understanding of the Nazi genocide and also of ourselves, prompting us to reflect on what it means to be human in light of the tragic events that they reference.