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Reviews

“Marianne Hirsch’s writings on postmemory have provided us with a varied and complex vocabulary for thinking and writing about the long intergenerational legacy of the Holocaust. This book, carefully and critically tries to untangle memories from their after effects; but, these essays also track the tragic loss of memory through trauma. Hirsch’s supple writing wrestles with ghosts, images, shadows, survival, loss and all that we project onto the empty canvas of the aftermath. Moving, urgent and necessary, this book opens up new ways of thinking about family, relationality, kinship, inheritance and survival in the wake of cataclysmic violence.” — Judith Halberstam, author of The Queer Art of Failure

“In The Generation of Postmemory, Marianne Hirsch explores the aftermath of genocide as few scholars have. She is both a brilliant reader of texts (photographs, artifacts, literature, and digital images) and an incisive theorist. As she clarifies the fractured forms of post-Holocaust art and literature, she demonstrates the value of imagination as restorative and as rich and layered in its inter-generational complexities. A groundbreaking book that has broad meaning for the study of traumatic memory and its creative aftermath.” — Peter Balakian, author of Black Dog of Fate, A Memoir

“In this important book, Marianne Hirsch refines and redefines her influential concept of postmemory, which has inspired a generation of scholars since she first proposed it two decades ago. Her crucial distinction between “familial” and “affiliative” postmemory shows how the transmission of traumatic experiences occurs not only within families but across a much wider social field. Hirsch’s emphasis on the role of gender in this mediating process is illuminating. The Generation of Postmemory will be a major reference in Holocaust and genocide studies for years to come.” — Susan Rubin Suleiman, author of Crises of Memory and the Second World War

The Generation of Postmemory is Marianne Hirsch’s finest and fullest description of her paradigm-changing concept of postmemory. In dialogue with a dazzling array of writers and photographers as well as scholars across the humanities, it shows how the “hinge generations” that have directly experienced or inherited the traumas of the holocaust and other 20th century genocides have sought to conceive and commemorate those staggering losses, in the hope of a better future. It also traces Hirsch’s own dialectical development as a literary, feminist, visual culture and holocaust studies scholar, an intellectual trajectory that she shares with many of the best critics of our time. This book is indispensable.” — Laura Wexler, author of Tender Violence: Domestic Visions in an Age of US Imperialism

The Generation of Postmemory is a brilliant text that movingly examines the ineluctable abyss between reality as we find it now and trauma as it was lived by those who were forced to undergo the Holocaust.” — Brett Kaplan, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Quinzaine“C’est a Marianne Hirsch, professeur de litterature comparee a l’universite Columbia (New York), qui commenca sa carriere par une these audacieuse sur trois monstres (masculins) de la litterature, Henry James, Michel Butor et Uew Johnson, que l’on doit la notion de << postmemory >>. La << postmemoire >> designe la transmission des traumatismes que l’histoire inflige d’une generation a l’autre.  Une notion avec laquelle, quand bien meme ils seraient retifs a la memoire, les historiens doivent compter. — Sonia Combe, La Quinzaine litteraire

 

 

 

 

 

“Larger national and international perspectives also inform the excellent essays by Michael Rothberg, Marianne Hirsch, Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi (one of the pioneers of Holocaust studies), and Anne Thelle…For both Hirsch and Ezrahi, the historical catastrophe that might be viewed in the light of the Holocaust’s multidirectional legacy is one that is also intrinsically related to the Holocaust: that of Palestinian naqba. Hirsch’s chapter examines what she calls “Objects of Return,” the ways in which a particular material object becomes both for a Holocaust text and a naqba text the medium of translation back into the past and the means through which the traumatic past is contemplated and processed.” – Emily Budick, Partial Answers: Journal of Literature and the History of Ideas (11:2, June 2013)

“Hirsch’s book is wide-ranging, including personal observations about her childhood in the capital of postwar Communist Romania, as well as trenchant analyses of a range of books, artwork, films, and other visual representations of the Holocaust. Two of the nine chapters are written with her husband, Leo Spitzer, with whom she is also collaborating on a book entitled Ghosts of Home. It is hard to do justice to the breadth of this book in a short review. Hirsch surveys key and relevant works by Art Spiegelman, W.G. Sebald, Susan Sontag, Toni Morrison, Nancy Spero, Muriel Hasbun, Tatana Kellner, Jeffrey Wolin, Ruth Klüger, David Levinthal, Anne Frank, Lorie Novak, Lucy Dawidowicz, Froma Zeitlin, Mitzi Goldman, Bracha Lichtenberg-Ettinger, and Susan Meiselas, among others. Hirsch is to be commended for her ambition. Her feminist sensibilities appalled by the absence of female narrators in Claude Lanzmann’s film Shoah, Hirsch seeks to reconceptualize the field of memory studies. She distinguishes between history and memory, arguing that this presence of embodied and affective experience in the process of transmission…is best described by the notion of memory as opposed to history. Memory signals an affective link to the past—a sense, precisely of a material “living connection”—and it is powerfully mediated by technologies like literature, photography, and testimony.” – Rochelle Ruthchild, “Writing and Remembering” from Wellesley Centers for Women | Women’s Review of Books (July/August 2013)