Literary Responses to Mass Violence

From September 16-18, 2003, Brandeis University hosted the symposium "Literary Responses to Mass Violence." The event brought together writers and scholars from Africa, the Middle East, and the United States to reflect on the writing and testimony that has been published in the wake of the Holocaust, South African apartheid, and the genocide in Rwanda, among other recent tragedies. Readings featured poetry and fiction. Discussions engaged participants in conversations organized around three themes: "Literature and Testimony"; "Nations, Populations, Language"; and "Finding Words in an Age of Violence." The symposium enabled scholars and writers from disparate places to engage each other in an intellectually open environment. \

Literary Responses to Mass Violence, the publication, collects many of the presentations made during the symposium, along with additional selections from the work of the poets who attended the event. The authors had an opportunity to revise their papers in light of the event, and some of them have chosen to refer directly to the discussions in the essays published in this volume.

Selections include:

Literature and Testimony, by Jane Alison Hale

  • Literaried Testimonies: Life Histories of Holocaust Survivors of Austro-Hungarian Origin, by Ilana Rosen
  • The Sleep of Reason: Denial, Memory-Work, and the Reconstruction of Social Order, by Peter Dale Scott
  • Dying In, by Peter Dale Scott

Nations, Populations, Language, by Leigh Swigart

  • Sabha’s Rope, by Taha Muhammad Ali
  • Nations, Populations, Language, by Antjie Krog
  • Country of grief and grace, by Antjie Krog
  • Reparation and Translation: Primo Levi’s “Letters from Germans,” by Mark Sanders

Finding Words in an Age of Violence, by Faith Smith

  • A Personal Story, by Rachel Talshir
  • Holocaust Literature: Myth, History, and Literature, by Yigal Schwartz
  • African Authors in Rwanda: Writing by Duty of Memory, by Boubacar Boris Diop; translated by Jane Hale
  • Reflections on Our Murderous Century, by Eugene Goodheart

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