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Research Seminar (Alina Legeyda, NCL)

13 December, 13:00-14:00

'Holocaust Survivors' Windmills of Memory: Book. Film. Voice Testimony.

This will be a talk by Dr Alina Legeyda, visiting researcher to the School of Modern Languages and associate professor at VN Karazin Kharkiv National University, Ukraine.

This research presents a diachronic study of Holocaust Survivors' Testimony in the form of consciously selected memories  represented in the three video archives of Holocaust-marked traumatic experience - Fortunoff Video Archive (1980s), USC Shoah Foundation Visual Archive (1990-2000), USHMM visual archive (2000s) and subsequent 21st century public speaking episodes (educational, social justice aims, etc.) as well as screen adaptations of survivors' memoirs and documentary films featuring survivors' return to post-traumatic spots. 

The research focus is on oral visual testimony narratives sharing Holocaust experience given by the same subjects over time.  It is suggested that Holocaust-marked experience related to pre-, during- and post-WWII period and ways of its representation are affected by temporality and undergo metamorphosis through time. Traumatic narratives given by the same subjects within different suggested time frameworks were found to differ significantly.The study attempts to investigate into the methods of Holocaust experience cultural representation and the repertoire of the invariant and the new memories emerging over time chosen by subjects to create a solid cultural memory of Holocaust tragedy for post-memory generation and to analyse modifications that memories underwent from decade to decade ( both in content and message) and underpin what lay underneath that.

The 21st century representation of Holocaust experience in survivors' oral testimony was marked by reflection/ analysis, moral evaluation, observant narrator's  distancing from events in focus with occassional duality/ dedoublement of the self in narration and episodes of "absence" due to emerging into deep memory, transformational shift in identity from victim- to- survivor, metaphorism, nostalgia, layered/non-linear narratives, the presence of clearly verbalised "lessons of life" and post-Holocaust appeal to the post-memory audience resulting from narrative "expectation" of the above, sharp contrasting of the normality of the "now" and the abnormality of the "then", moral paralysis in description of camp/ ghetto experience, etc.