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Trauma Between Remembering and Forgetting in Israeli Literature and Culture

Mon, December 17, 10:30am to 12:00pm, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Cityview 1 Ballroom

Session Submission Type: Panel Session

Abstract

This panel considers Israeli literary and filmic works that probe trauma between the poles of approach and retreat, memory and forgetting. When and how do texts foreground trauma, and when and how do they relegate war trauma to the background? To what extent are the traumas of war contiguous and/or coterminous with the trauma of occupying and being occupied, and how do the traces of militarization insinuate themselves in traumatic returns distant both geographically and temporally from the initial scene of loss? This panel will seek to articulate techniques via which Israeli authors and directors interrogate trauma through various modes of displacement, deterritorialization and performative silence. In Yoram Kaniuk’s gradual transition from distance to intimacy, the literary text circles around a singular haunting image until Kaniuk’s oeuvre arrives at the moment of testimony in his 2010 novel TASHAH (1948). Similarly embracing the therapeutic possibilities of distance and silence, Eshkol Nevo’s shell shocked protagonist in NEULAND treks to distant shores in order to recover his lost father while simultaneously shielding himself from his hyper-nationalized, militarized past. The unsaid also emerges as a central cinematic device in Shira Geffen’s BOREG, where the filmic articulation of stoically ambivalent, transcultural intersubjectivity belies histories of systemic violence visited upon the bodies of occupied and occupier alike. Reading these three works comparatively, this panel will consider the ways in which stylized, purposeful forgetting helps foreground and ultimately address and redress the interrelated traumas of war and interregnum in Israeli literature, film and culture.

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