For Judith K. Speaking in Starts Postmemory and the Archive michael g. levine Postmemory In her infl uential 2008 essay “Th e Generation of Postmemory,” Mar- ianne Hirsch defi nes postmemory as “the relationship that the generation aft er those who witnessed cultural or collective trauma bears to the expe- riences of those who came before, experiences that they ‘remember’ only by means of the stories, images, and behaviors among which they grew up.” Hirsch continues, But these experiences were transmitt ed to them so deeply and aff ec- tively as to seem to constitute memories in their own right. Postmem- ory’s connection to the past is thus not actually mediated by recall but by imaginative investment, projection, and creation. To grow up with such overwhelming inherited memories, to be dominated by narratives that preceded one’s birth or one’s consciousness is to risk having one’s own stories and experiences displaced, even evacuated, by those of a previous generation. It is to be shaped, however indirectly, by traumatic events that still defy narrative reconstruction and exceed comprehen- sion. Th ese events happened in the past, but their eff ects continue into the present. Th is is, I believe, the experience
Journal of Literature and Trauma Studies – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Jun 16, 2016
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