Historical Contemporaneity and Contemporaneous Historicity: Creation of Meaning and Identity in Postwar Trauma Narratives

  • Thorsten Wilhelm Yale University Dept. of Germanic Languages & Literatures
Keywords: Holocaust, trauma, Jewish-American fiction

Abstract

This paper contends that traumatic memories are not inherently memories of an experienced trauma. It explores a new perspective on post-1945 Jewish-American fiction. Analyzing Jewish-American novels from three generations—survivors, their children, and their grandchildren—the author traces the trajectories and changing perspectives in the narrative productions of these three generations. The analysis uses Jeffrey Alexander’s theory of cultural trauma to analyze generational trajectories in identity formations.

Author Biography

Thorsten Wilhelm, Yale University Dept. of Germanic Languages & Literatures

Thorsten Wilhelm is a doctoral student in the English Department at Heidelberg University and an Exchange Scholar at Yale University. He received his MA in History and English Literature and Linguistics from Heidelberg University. His research focuses on the ongoing effects of the Holocaust in Jewish-American fiction. He looks at how these intergenerational trauma narratives form identities and collective trauma. Apart from this, his interest in nineteenth-century literature has him working on bibliographical histories of engravings for the novels of Charles Dickens.

Published
2017-11-30
How to Cite
Wilhelm, T. (2017). Historical Contemporaneity and Contemporaneous Historicity: Creation of Meaning and Identity in Postwar Trauma Narratives. Contemporaneity: Historical Presence in Visual Culture, 6(1), 19-35. https://doi.org/10.5195/contemp.2017.206
Section
Articles