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Women Writing Holocaust Lives and Beyond

Wednesday, February 17, 2016, 11:00 am – 12:30 pm

Women Writing Holocaust Lives and Beyond is a project that involves a retrieval of a heterogeneity of women’s voices as historical subjects during the longue durée of the Holocaust, from which valuable insights can emerge for Holocaust Studies, Gender Studies, and Cultural Studies more broadly. From my larger study on the life writing of several hundred women in half a dozen languages, I shall offer a gendered analysis of representative case studies within their historical context, which range from wartime diaries that survived when their scribe did not to memoirs still appearing today. My aim is to provide insights for a more inclusive reconceptualization of the received history of the Holocaust and of its aftermath, illustrating how the narrative truths of the Holocaust, and of war more generally, must be built on collective and personal experiences of both genders. Women’s texts can challenge and modify our [pre]conceptions, at a moment when we are nearing an ‘after’ when personal accounts will no longer be forthcoming.

Louise O. Vasvári (Ph.D., UC, Berkeley) is Professor Emerita of Comparative Literature and of Linguistics at Stony Brook University, where she also served as Associate Provost. She currently teaches in the Linguistics Department at New York University and has also taught in various visiting capacities, at ELTE and Szeged, and in Britain, France, and Taiwan. She works in medieval studies, historical and sociolinguistics, Holocaust Studies, and Hungarian Studies, all informed by gender theory within a broader framework of comparative cultural studies. In relation to Holocaust Studies she has published with Steven Tötösy, Imre Kertész and Holocaust Literature (2005), Comparative Central European Holocaust Studies (2009), and Comparative Hungarian Cultural Studies (2011).