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Subversive Survival: Reconsidering Trauma in Literary Representations of the Holocaust, Apartheid and the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda

Maurer, Ayala Sarah; (2019) Subversive Survival: Reconsidering Trauma in Literary Representations of the Holocaust, Apartheid and the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This dissertation examines literary representations of trauma and survival in relation to the Holocaust, apartheid and the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Although the theoretical study of trauma and its relationship to literature is vast and varied, it is simultaneously limited both by claims of the Eurocentrism of the discourse, and by the fact that the field is currently dominated by cultural trends that point towards absence, lack and void as wholly constitutive responses to violence: assumptions that have come to characterise survivors and their writing. My thesis interrogates these two positions. Written in English, Hebrew, and French, the texts I study here demonstrate how testimony subverts the orthodoxies and expectations associated with trauma and its literary aesthetics, suggesting the need for broader discussions around trauma and its representation. My first chapter, which puts Primo Levi’s If This is a Man in conversation with Mark Mathabane’s Kaffir Boy and Yolande Mukagasana’s La Mort ne veut pas de moi, explores how literature demonstrates resilience, and not submission, in the face of violence. Next, I turn to Otto Dov Kulka’s Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death, Ellen Kuzwayo’s Call Me Woman and Révérien Rurangwa’s Génocidé to ask how survival is represented within autobiography in ways that defy the conventions of the genre. Chapter Three develops my discussion of survival by examining how fiction raises difficult questions surrounding victimhood, identity and memory, calling upon Imre Kertesz’s Liquidation, Zakes Mda’s Ways of Dying and Gilbert Gatore’s Le Passé devant soi to do so. Finally, through discussion of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated, K. Sello Duiker’s The Quiet Violence of Dreams and Diogène Ntarindwa’s Carte d’identité, I ask how intergenerational trauma might make itself felt – if, indeed, it is transmitted at all.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Subversive Survival: Reconsidering Trauma in Literary Representations of the Holocaust, Apartheid and the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda
Event: UCL
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/ 4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10068894
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