Can we remember other people's memories? The Generation of
Postmemory argues we can: that memories of traumatic events live on
to mark the lives of those who were not there to experience them.
Children of survivors and their contemporaries inherit catastrophic
histories not through direct recollection but through haunting
postmemories--multiply mediated images, objects, stories,
behaviors, and affects passed down within the family and the
culture at large. In these new and revised critical readings of the
literary and visual legacies of the Holocaust and other, related
sites of memory, Marianne Hirsch builds on her influential concept
of postmemory. The book's chapters, two of which were written
collaboratively with the historian Leo Spitzer, engage the work of
postgeneration artists and writers such as Art Spiegelman, W.G.
Sebald, Eva Hoffman, Tatana Kellner, Muriel Hasbun, Anne Karpff,
Lily Brett, Lorie Novak, David Levinthal, Nancy Spero and Susan
Meiselas. Grappling with the ethics of empathy and identification,
these artists attempt to forge a creative postmemorial aesthetic
that reanimates the past without appropriating it. In her analyses
of their fractured texts, Hirsch locates the roots of the familial
and affiliative practices of postmemory in feminism and other
movements for social change. Using feminist critical strategies to
connect past and present, words and images, and memory and gender,
she brings the entangled strands of disparate traumatic histories
into more intimate contact. With more than fifty illustrations, her
text enables a multifaceted encounter with foundational and cutting
edge theories in memory, trauma, gender, and visual culture,
eliciting a new understanding of history and our place in it.
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