Probing The Limits Of Representation / Edition 1

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Overview

Can the Holocaust be compellingly described or represented? Or is there some core aspect of the extermination of the Jews of Europe which resists our powers of depiction, of theory, of narrative? In this volume, twenty scholars probe the moral, epistemological, and aesthetic limits of an account or portrayal of the Nazi horror.

These essays expose to scrutiny questions that have a pressing claim on our attention, our conscience, and our cultural memory. First presented at a conference organized by Saul Friedlander, they are now made available for the wide consideration and discussion they merit.

Christopher Browning, Hayden White, Carlo Ginzburg, Martin Jay, Dominick LaCapra, and others focus first on the general question: can the record of his historical event be established objectively through documents and witnesses, or is every historical interpretation informed by the perspective of its narrator? The suggestion that all historical accounts are determined by a preestablished narrative choice raises the ethical and intellectual issues of various forms of relativization. In more specific terms, what are the possibilities of historicizing National Socialism without minimizing the historical place of the Holocaust.

Also at issue are the problems related to an artistic representation, particularly the dilemmas posed by aestheticization. John Felstiners, Yael S. Feldman, Sidra Ezahi, Eric Santner, and Anton Kaes grapple with these questions and confront the inadequacy of words in the face of the Holocaust. Others address the problem of fitting Nazi policies and atrocities into the history of Western thought and science. The book concludes with Geoffrey Hartmans's evocative meditation on memory.

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Editorial Reviews

Poetics Today

What might it mean to call the Holocaust a "crisis in form"…the Shoah nonetheless challenges our powers to draw something like a meaning, or maybe even more than one, from this powerful sense of meaningfulness. At the same time that it renders the task of historical comprehension ethically imperative, it threatens to expose the inadequacies, or at the very least the limitations of our familiar modes of coming to understand cultural events.
— Irene Tucker

Poetics Today - Irene Tucker
What might it mean to call the Holocaust a "crisis in form"…the Shoah nonetheless challenges our powers to draw something like a meaning, or maybe even more than one, from this powerful sense of meaningfulness. At the same time that it renders the task of historical comprehension ethically imperative, it threatens to expose the inadequacies, or at the very least the limitations of our familiar modes of coming to understand cultural events.
Poetics Today
What might it mean to call the Holocaust a "crisis in form"…the Shoah nonetheless challenges our powers to draw something like a meaning, or maybe even more than one, from this powerful sense of meaningfulness. At the same time that it renders the task of historical comprehension ethically imperative, it threatens to expose the inadequacies, or at the very least the limitations of our familiar modes of coming to understand cultural events.
— Irene Tucker
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674707665
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/1992
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 414
  • Product dimensions: 0.92 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction

Saul Friedlander

1. German Memory, Judicial Interrogation, and Historical Reconstruction: Writing Perpetrator History from Postwar Testimony

Christopher R. Browing

2. Historical Emplotment and the Problem of Truth

Hayden White

3. On Emplotment: Two Kinds of Ruin

Perry Anderson

4. History, Counterhistory and Narrative

Amos Funkenstien

5. Just One Witness

Carlo Ginzburg

6. Of Plots, Witness and Judgments

Martin Jay

7. Representing the Holocaust: Reflections on the Historians' Debate

Dominick LaCapra

8. Historical Understanding and Counterrationally: The Judenrat as Epistemological Vantage

Dan Diner

9. History beyond the Pleasure Principle: Some Thoughts on the Representation of Trauma

Eric L. Santner

10. Habermas, Enlightenment, and Antisemitism

Vincent P. Pecora

11. Between Image and Phrase: Progessive History and the "Final Solution" as Dispossession

Sande Cohen

12. Science, Modernity, and the "Final Solution"

Mario Biagioli

13. Holocaust and the End of History: Postmodern Historiography in Cinema

Anton Kaes

14. Whose Story Is It, Anyways? Ideology and Psychology in the Representation of the Shoah in Israeli Literature

Yael S. Feldman

15. Translating Paul Celan's "Todesfuge": Rhythm and Repetition as Metaphor

John Felstiner

16. "The Grave in the Air": Unbound Metaphors in Post-Holocaust Poetry

Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi

17. The Dialectics of Unspeakability: Language, Silence, and the Narratives of Desubjectification

Peter Haidu

18. The Representation of Limits

Berel Lang

19. The Book of the Destruction

Geoffrey H. Hartman

Notes

Contributors

Index

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