In Russell J. A. Kilbourn & Eleanor Ty (eds.), The Memory Effect: The Remediation of Memory in Literature and Film. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. pp. 51-67 (2013)

Kathy Behrendt
Wilfrid Laurier University
Marianne Hirsch’s influential concept of postmemory articulates the ethical significance of representing trauma in art and literature. Postmemory, for Hirsch, “describes the relationship of children of survivors of cultural or collective trauma to the experiences of their parents, experiences that they ‘remember’ only as the narratives and images with which they grew up, but that are so powerful, so monumental, as to constitute memories in their own right”. Through appeal to recent philosophical work on memory, the ethics of remembering, and Peter Goldie’s discussion of empathy, I explore the virtues and limitations of Hirsch’s concept of postmemory. I take particular issue with her recent attempt to place author W.G. Sebald in league with the postmemory generation.
Keywords memory  ethics of memory  trauma  postmemory  empathy  witness  Marianne Hirsch  W.G. Sebald  Peter Goldie
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