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Speaker: Kathryn Sederberg (Kalamazoo College, Michigan)

Despite the challenges of writing while experiencing displacement, many German and Austrian refugees, including prominent writers, artists, intellectuals, and unpublished authors, wrote a diary during the 1930s and 40s. Their texts are often hybrid forms containing elements of travelogues, letters, and historical chronicles, as writers detail the bureaucratic obstacles to emigration, the small and large humiliations they endure along the way, and the difficulties of life as a refugee in a new country. This presentation surveys the practices of diary writing for the victims of Nazi persecution, and the changes in writing and its functions as the writer is geographically displaced. The focus is on the diary as a material object that bridges past, present, and future, creating a tangible link to the home these refugees left behind. 

Kathryn Sederberg is an Assistant Professor of German Studies at Kalamazoo College. Her research includes 20th-century German culture, war and gender, National Socialism and its legacies, and autobiographical writing with a focus on diaries written during and after the Second World War. 

Image: Diary of Frederic Zeller (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection).

This seminar will be given online via Zoom. Attendance free. Advance registration essential.