As part of the
CEU Summer University Holocaust Testimonies and Their Afterlives Public Lecture Series (July 10 –17, 2023 2023)
Noah Shenker (Monash University)
Beyond the Era of the Witness: The Digital Afterlives of
July 17, 5:30 pm Quantum Room (N15/101)
Noah Sheker is the N. Milgrom and 6a Foundation Senior Lecturer in Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Monash University’s Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation. His research and teaching traverse Jewish Studies, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Cultural Studies, and Cinema and Media Studies. That interdisciplinary approach was at the center of his first book, Reframing Holocaust Testimony, published in 2015 by Indiana University Press as part of its Modern Jewish Experience series.
The “era of the witness” marked by the consolidation of survivor memory through film, testimonies, and other media, is transitioning to a period in which witnesses will no longer be present to anchor those representations with their living, moral authority. It is a moment that has been anticipated for some time, contributing to scholarly examinations of “postmemory” and the ways in which representations of the Holocaust might forge affective links to the past once survivors are gone. Museums find this new transition especially consequential, as they have relied on survivor docents to guide patrons through their halls, to lead public commemoration ceremonies, and to conduct community and student outreach. In the face of the looming aftermath of the aftermath—one thrown into even starker relief in light of the health threats posed by COVID-19 to communities of survivors— institutions are grappling with ways to preserve the afterlives of Holocaust witnesses. This talk considers this critical juncture in Holocaust memory by examining various attempts to create digital afterlives of that event. The research upon which this talk is based aims to provide scholars, archivists, curators, and others, a new lens for interpreting and applying the DiT and other digital media representations of the Holocaust.