Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Peter Paik, Kumkum Sangari, Eric Hayot, Gary Weissman
Atrocity, Genocide, Genre, Holocaust, Law, Testimony
"Genocide Genres" investigates the transnational circulation of atrocity testimony, writing which describes the most spectacularly failed of human encounters. In particular, my project compares the production and reception of atrocity narratives across three distinct, post-WWII discourses: 1) Holocaust studies, 2) the modern human rights movement, and 3) international criminal law. Each discourse, I argue, sets formal limits on individual testimonies in order to regulate their function institutionally, directing not only which testimonies are read but how those accounts should be read. As a result, testimonies become generic. We see this demonstrated by the emergence of identifiable genres such as Holocaust literature and human rights literature, and the successful "passing" of faked accounts in each discourse.
By contrast, I locate resistance to these representational apparatuses in the increasing transnational circulation of testimony. A complex interplay ensues when these stories come in contact with each other--the translation of Anne Frank's Diary, for instance, now authorizes more contemporary accounts of genocide, giving rise to multiple foreign "Anne Franks" from such disparate places as Cambodia, Bosnia, North Korea, and Palestine. In exploring the cross-influence of these texts, my project ultimately theorizes an emerging "world literature of atrocity."
Wilson, Katherine, "Genocide Genres: Reading Atrocity Testimonies" (2013). Theses and Dissertations. 326.