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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/19529

Title: Photography and Trauma in Photo-fiction: Literary Montage in the Writings of Jonathan Safran Foer, Aleksandar Hemon and W. G. Sebald
Authors: Mikulinsky, Romi
Advisor: Hutcheon, Linda
Department: English
Keywords: photo-fiction
visual culture
trauma
photography
Literary Montage
context
media
memory
Jonathan Safran Foer
W. G. Sebald
Aleksandar Hemon
Issue Date: 22-Mar-2010
Abstract: Located on the interstice between Media Studies and Literary Theory, my dissertation explores the emerging genre of photo-fiction -- literary works that incorporate photographic images into the manuscripts -- and its impact on the commemoration of traumatic historical events. I argue that the way we represent and remember historical traumas is dependent on the media in which images emanating from these events are produced and circulated; put differently, the context of these images shapes our engagement with them. By examining literary works that incorporate photographs into their printed text, I explore textual and visual representations of historical trauma (such as the two World Wars, the Balkan wars of the Nineties, and 9/11). The authors whose works I analyze (Jonathan Safran Foer, Aleksandar Hemon, W.G. Sebald) grant photography a new status: the inserted images transcend traditional “authentification strategies” and draw attention to the convergence of realism and indexicality featured by these photographs. These authors’ employment of photographs from various media (television, internet, printed press, encyclopedias and archives) questions not only the technical qualities of each medium but the veracity and accuracy of evidence. Photography’s capacity to secure and store information is put radically into question, not only because the new contexts of these images, but because of the manipulations and reconfigurations the movement between media has brought about. Drawing on Walter Benjamin’s concept of the literary montage, I suggest that literature provides an apt arena to examine the reception to images. By literary montage I mean the opening up of a new dimension in which visual and verbal elements are juxtaposed, and the disjunctions and gaps between them encourage readers to become active participants in the creation of narrative. Photo-fiction’s interplay between images and texts therefore not only sheds light on the mechanics of representation, but demand from its audience to reflect on the way we interpret and respond to historical traumas in a society saturated with images.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/19529
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of English - Doctoral theses

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