What’s in a Frame?: Photography, Memory, and History in Contemporary German Literature
During the past two decades, a vast body of German literature has appeared that is interested not only in the Holocaust but also in the way Germans have dealt with the legacy of National Socialism over the last sixty years. Especially since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the German reunification, a number of literary works have appeared that use photographs to approach this limit-event and its remembrance in German national and private discourses. At the same time, the scholarly attention given to questions of memory and its representation has also sharply increased over the last few decades. Such debates have brought forth a number of demands in order for Holocaust literature to become productive for remembrance as well as for the creation of the present and the future. The following study investigates works by Monika Maron, W. G. Sebald, and Irina Liebmann. Of particular interest is the question of how these authors have integrated photographs within their texts in order to address and overcome the problems of Holocaust representation: the generational distance, absences and silences as well as the institutionalization and instrumentalization of memory. The first chapter lays out the theoretical framework that informs the discussion of the most vital concepts treated in this study: fact and fiction, history and memory, photography and text. The subsequent three chapters investigate the respective works written by the three authors: Monika Maron’s Pawels Briefe (1999), W. G. Sebald’s Die Ausgewanderten (1992) and Austerlitz (2001), and Irina Liebmann’s Stille Mitte von Berlin (2002). I maintain that the complex and paradoxical nature of photography, most significantly its simultaneous claim to truth and to deception, renders it a particularly fruitful means to negotiate questions of factuality and fiction as well as memory and history. It allows these authors to engage the reader in a problematization of the concept of truth as well as the constructedness of all forms of representation.
School:University of Cincinnati
School Location:USA - Ohio
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:photography memory history holocaust german literature jewish fact fiction sebald maron liebmann
Date of Publication:01/01/2005