"From hidden to (over-)exposed" the grotesque and performing bodies of World War II Nazi concentration camp prisoners /
Lesa Lockford, Advisor
World War II continues to carry considerable “cultural weight” in the United States.
Many movies, documentaries, and television mini-series about the Holocaust seem to try to make
sense of what can seem like a senseless act. The field of performance studies offers another
avenue by which we can examine those events and our responses to them. In this paper, I apply a
construct of the grotesque body, based primarily on the work of Mikhail Bakhtin and Julia
Kristeva, to the prisoners of World War II Nazi concentration camps to examine the social
networks at play in current understandings of the Holocaust. In chapter one, I analyze the
relationship between prisoners, guards, and prison officials by means of the grotesque body in
the official and clandestine cabarets performed by the prisoners. In chapter two, I examine the
role of the grotesque body in the photographs taken by Allied soldiers after constructing the
premise of viewing photographs as performance. I argue that the prisoners’ bodies are integral in
the maintenance of our collective memory. In chapter three, I track contemporary appropriations
of one specific photograph of prisoners and the way the performance of reading the image has
changed as the appropriations have become more politicized. The bodies of prisoners have gone
from hidden to revealed to appropriated.
I dedicate this to my father, who I think about and miss every day and in whom I find strength,
and to my mother for her indispensable sacrifices and support.
School:Bowling Green State University
School Location:USA - Ohio
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:world war 1939 1945 concentration camp inmates grotesque in art germany
Date of Publication: