Multiplicities of Memories in Contemporary German Literature: How Photographs are Used to Reconstruct Narratives of History

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The incorporation of photography into German literary texts dealing with the years between 1933 and 1945 is an important innovative technique that offers insights relating to questions of truth, authenticity, and opportunities for personal engagement in the visual and textual representations of the catastrophe that still haunts us today.

This book fills a void in contemporary scholarship by providing an in-depth analyses of three major German-language writers and their literary reflections of the Holocaust. It examines important insights into the limits of memory on the effects of this historical catastrophe on those born afterwards and the blending of text and image in the search for truth and authenticity.


“Through her careful close readings of these writers’ works, Jones provides new insights into the complex workings of memory and its relation to representational truth.”
-Professor Katharina Gerstenberger,
Department Chair of Languages and Literature,
University of Utah

“Jones identifies and attempts to fill a gap in the scholarly assessment of photography’s effect in Holocaust narratives…the monograph makes a significant contribution to what had threatened to become a stagnant conversation…and further contextualizes the literary projects of the authors she investigates.”
-Professor Michael Hutchins,
Assistant Professor of German,
Indiana University Southeast

“Jones book address the question why and in what ways contemporary German writers have included photographs into their Holocaust-related narratives. Her detailed analyses of the works of three German-language authors provide important insights into the difficulties of portraying the effects of the Holocaust on the second generation.”
-Professor Julia K. Baker,
Assistant Professor of German,
Tennessee Technological University

Table of Contents

Foreword by Katharina Gerstenberger

Photography in Contemporary German Literature
Photography and Its Discontents
1. What’s in a Frame?: Photography, Memory and History
Fact versus Fiction in Holocaust Literature
Photography’s Claim to Authenticity and Its Deceipts
Image, Text, and Context
Family Photography
Haunting Gaps
Discontinuities and Fragmentation
Personalizing History
Photography as Metaphor and Vehicle for Remembrance
Photography and Trauma
Photography, Memory, and History: Conclusion
2. “The Quest for Memory is the Search for one’s History:” Monika Maron’s Pawels Briefe
2.I The Quest for Memory

Encounter as Conflict
Photography’s Deceptions
Narrating the Void
Chance Encounters
Roland Barthes: Punctum versus Studium
Affiliative Look Vis-à-Vis Family Photography
2.II. The Search for One’s History A Memory of Breaks
The Self-Reflectivity of the Second Generation
Memory versus History
Modern versus Mythical Memory
Memory as a Constructive Process
Maron’s Search for Family History: Conclusion
3. Poetics of Uncertainty: W.G. Sebald’s Die Ausgewanderten and Austerlitz
Literary Representation of the Holocaust
3.I. Suspension of Belief
Photographs as Documents par excellence
L’Effect Du Reel:
Manipulation and Falsification Photographs
Sebald’s Extratextual Commentaries
3.II. Photography and Text in Dialogue
Poetics of Indirectness: A New Language of Silence
The Seeing Eye as a Means of Contemplation
Blind Fields:Ordinary Objects as Keepers of (Imagined) Stories
3.III. Photography – The Epitome of Memory?
Photography and Forgetting
Personal Investment for Sustained Remembrance
Absences and Presences
Photography and Traumatic Recall
Sebald’s Poetics of Uncertainty: Conclusion
4. Path(s) to the Truth: Irina Liebmann’s Stille Mitte von Berlin
4.I. “Ja, was erhoffe ich mir davon . . . Die Wahrheit!”: The Reproduction of Artifacts as Evidence for the Truth

The Photographs in Stille Mitte von Berlin
4.II. Paths into the Past: Memory, History, and the Archive
Voids in Berlin’s Center
Memories of a Contested Past
Collective Memory as a Form of Prescribed Amnesia
The Quest to “Really Know”: History and the Archive
Liebmann’s Paths to the Truth: Conclusion
What’s in a Frame? : Conclusion

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