Holocaust postmemory in contemporary anglophone children's literature

Pini, Sara (2022) Holocaust postmemory in contemporary anglophone children's literature, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Lingue, letterature e culture moderne, 34 Ciclo. DOI 10.48676/unibo/amsdottorato/10406.
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This dissertation discusses contemporary Anglophone children’s literature representing the Holocaust and it claims that, through the reading of historical novels, children can acquire a specific kind of postmemory, which I call ‘attitudinal postmemory’. The works analyzed have been written by ‘non-related’ authors, meaning writers who are not witnesses nor their descendants. Attitudinal postmemory is based on the readers’ establishment of a personal-emotional link with the Holocaust by means of narrative empathy towards the characters; it is an ‘active’ kind of memory because it will hopefully convert into an informed, respectful attitude towards peers that opposes the Nazi ideology. The dissertation is structured into two main parts. Part One provides an overview of the origins and development of Holocaust memory in Western countries. Chapter 1 introduces two major historiographical-literary debates and the following chapter discusses three main issues concerning the representation of the Holocaust (naming, the need to represent, and the ‘right to’ represent) while considering the forms and genres traditionally used and considered ‘appropriate’. Focusing on the scope of literary narratives, Chapter 3 explains how the presence of a personal-emotional link is essential to acquire Holocaust postmemory and, in particular, attitudinal postmemory. The criteria adopted with regard to the case studies are described in Chapter 4. Part Two discusses the process of interweaving historical truth with fiction and how historical fiction helps child readers acquire attitudinal postmemory. After a brief overview of the genre in Chapter 5, Chapter 6 probes how it is possible to meet the two main expectations of historical fiction while avoiding a disrespectful stance towards the Holocaust. Chapter 7 discusses the idea of empathy and some issues in the representation of Nazi evil, while Chapter 8 offers a comparative analysis of the case studies proposed, including authors from the UK, Ireland, Australia, and the USA.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Pini, Sara
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Holocaust postmemory, contemporary literature, children, historical fiction, attitude, empathy
Data di discussione
21 Giugno 2022

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