Narrating the German loss: small histories and the historiography of Fascist violence Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Hennlich, Andrew J.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Art and Art History
  • Witness is the primary form of documenting histories of Fascist violence. Despite the inherent problems associated with witnessing, it incorporates itself into purportedly objective and scientific histories. Responding to Hayden White’s claim that all histories are narrative in structure, my thesis interrogates two artist’s works- W.G. Sebald’s last novel Austerlitz and Christian Boltanski’s Resistance. Each project examines the relationships between witness, photography and archives, constructing what Boltanski terms “small histories” – personal memories, unique to the individual making up an important aspect of their identity, falling outside of “objective” histories. Sebald and Boltanski’s narratives become exemplars of a literary history, supplementing the gaps within history writing, making “small histories” an essential part of historiography. Writing histories of Fascist violence in this way counters the ideological and overwhelming images of the Holocaust. Instead their images preserve a trace of the individual’s life rather than death, narrating histories that are self-reflexive and open.
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  • Mavor, Carol
  • Open access

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