In this lecture, Michael Rothberg and Yasemin Yildis ask what it means to "inherit" and take responsibility for a history of genocide in a multicultural society marked by immigration. Rothberg and Yildis focus in particular on how Germany's postwar labor migration has inflected—and been inflected by—its confrontation with the Holocaust and National Socialism, and introduce a “migrant archive” of engagements by immigrants with the German past. Turning to recent works of literature that bring together migration from Turkey and the history of German perpetration and suffering during the Second World War, Rothberg and Yildiz explore first how a discourse of inheritance can consolidate an ethnically exclusive national identity. Through the example of a transnational, Turkish-language short story about the German past Rothberg and Yildiz then highlight the fragility of transmission in the absence of inheritance, but also suggest that responsiveness to how the past can be reimagined through attention to how we inhabit history.
Michael Rothberg is Professor of English and Head of the Department of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he is also Director of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies Initiative. His latest book is Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization (2009), published by Stanford University Press in their “Cultural Memory in the Present” series. He is also the author of Traumatic Realism: The Demands of Holocaust Representation (2000), and has co-edited The Holocaust: Theoretical Readings (2003) and special issues of the journals Criticism, Interventions, Occasion, and Yale French Studies.
Yasemin Yildiz is Associate Professor of German and Conrad Humanities Scholar at the University of Illinois. Prof. Yildiz specializes in twentieth- and twenty-first-century German literature and culture with research interests in literary multilingualism, minority discourses (especially Turkish-German and German-Jewish), transnational studies, and gender studies. Her book Beyond the Mother Tongue: The Postmonolingual Condition, published by Fordham University Press, won the MLA’s 2012 Scaglione Prize for Studies in Germanic Languages and Literatures and received Honorable Mention for the 2014 Laura Shannon Prize in Contemporary European Studies. She spent Fall 2013 as Visiting Associate Professor of German at Harvard University. She is currently working on a co-authored study of immigrants and Holocaust remembrance in contemporary Germany together with Michael Rothberg.
This event is funded by the Max Kade Foundation, German and Scandinavian Studies at UMass, the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide and Memory Studies at UMass, Comparative Literature at UMass, the Department of English at UMass, the Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies at UMass, the Department of German at Amherst College, the Department of German Studies at Mount Holyoke College, the Five College Lecture Fund and the Five College Faculty Seminar in German Studies.