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Ecologies of Witnessing: Language, Place and Holocaust Testimony

Hannah Pollin-Galay

A panel discussion and launch event for the new book, Ecologies of Witnessing: Language, Place and Holocaust Testimony by Hannah Pollin-Galay.

In Ecologies of Witnessing: Language, Place and Holocaust Testimony (Yale University Press, 2018), Pollin-Galay sets out to rethink conventional wisdom about Holocaust testimony, focusing on the power of language and place to shape personal narrative. Oral histories of Lithuanian Jews serve as the textual base for this exploration. Comparing the remembrances of Holocaust victims who remained in Lithuania with those who resettled in Israel and North America after World War II, Pollin-Galay reveals meaningful differences based on where survivors chose to live out their postwar lives and whether their language of testimony was Yiddish, English, or Hebrew. More than an original presentation of yet-unheard stories, this book challenges the assumption of a universal vocabulary for describing and healing human pain.

Panel will include:

Hannah Pollin-Galay is Assistant Professor in the Department of Literature at Tel Aviv University, where she teaches on Yiddish, oral narrative, and memory.

Carolyn J. Dean is Charles J. Stille Professor of History and French at Yale University, and is author of six books including most recently, The Moral Witness: Trials and Testimonies after Genocide.

Justin Cammy is Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and of Comparative Literature at Smith College. Cammy's publications range from essays on Yiddish literary history to scholarly translations of Yiddish literature to critical introductions to new editions of works by Yiddish writers and memoirists.

James E. Young is Distinguished University Professor of English and Judaic Studies Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Founding Director of the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies at UMass Amherst. He is author of Writing and Rewriting the Holocaust (1988), The Texture of Memory (1993),  At Memory's Edge:  After-images of the Holocaust in Contemporary Art and Architecture (2000), and The Stages of Memory: Reflections on Memorial Art, Loss, and the Spaces Between (2016).

Moderated by Alon Confino, Pen Tishkach Chair of Holocaust Studies, Professor of History and Jewish Studies and Director of the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies, UMass Amherst.