Rereading Women’s Holocaust Testimonies Against the Grain: Gendered Narratives, Representation and Identity

Ramsden, Roseanna (2020) Rereading Women’s Holocaust Testimonies Against the Grain: Gendered Narratives, Representation and Identity. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Abstract

This thesis argues for and models three new critical reading practices that enable us to garner a more profound understanding of women’s published, English language testimonies of the Holocaust. It works at the interface between history and literary studies, and uses gender, queer and feminist theory as hermeneutic tools with which to reread and analyse women’s testimonies ‘against the grain’ of androcentric, heterosexist and normative Holocaust discourses. In so doing, I show that a shift in analytic focus allows more of historical significance to be discovered in these memoirs. I illustrate that, for many women survivors producing their accounts retrospectively, the narrativization and representation of experience is gendered, and is yoked to the post-Holocaust construction of identity. Finally, I show how women’s testimonies and the public representations of self-image within them, interact with, and are shaped by, the time period in which they were produced. The significance of this study is that it informs our understanding of women’s memoirs by introducing a focus on both the unspoken and the overlooked that has hitherto been lacking, and reveals the power of reading through a lens unobscured by historiographical assumptions about gender and sexuality. The findings of this thesis matter because they not only demonstrate that an interdisciplinary, gender-centric approach to both women’s and men’s survivor literature creates space for new insights to be gained, but because they challenge essentialist readings of women’s accounts, and thus broaden our understanding of women’s testimonial responses to their Holocaust experiences.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Holocaust Memoir, Literary Criticism, Queer Theory, Feminist Ecocriticism
Subjects: L900 Others in Social studies
V300 History by topic
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2021 08:22
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 11:00
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/46442

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