Centre for the Study of Cultural Memory; Mediated Memories of Responsibility (2)

Session 2: 

Claire Gorrara (University of Cardiff)
‘Family Legacies: Taking intergenerational responsibility for the crimes and losses of the Second World War in the graphic novel’
This paper will focus on the intergenerational transmission of family memories of the Holocaust and the Second World War in two graphic novels: Miriam Katin’s We are on our own: a memoir (2006) and Nora Krug’s Heimat: a German family album (2018). Written from vastly different family experiences of the Second World War, both narratives grapple with their authors’ personal implications in complex intergenerational circuits of responsibility, remorse and loss. The graphic form and its deeply personal aesthetic provide a haptic bridge between past and present, history and memory – them and us.

Emiliano Perra (University of Winchester)
End of Empire (Channel 4, 1985) and public memory of decolonisation in Britain
The documentary series End of Empire, produced by Brian Lapping for Granada TV and aired on Channel 4 in 1985, represents one of television’s earliest and most comprehensive attempts to come to terms with the end of the British Empire and its legacy in terms of historical responsibility. In its expansive 14 episodes covering some of most contentious decolonisation episodes, including India, Kenya, Rhodesia, and Palestine among others, End of Empire offered an ambitious attempt to ‘swing the pendulum’ of British public memory of Empire at a key junction in modern British history like the mid-1980s. By discussing the series and the public debate it engendered, this paper will offer a case study of an important moment in the still ongoing process of coming to terms with the historical responsibility of Empire in Britain.

Stephanie Bird (UCL)
‘A tacit agreement’: Responsibility and perpetration in the work of Imre Kertész.
In Imre Kertész's novel Fiasco, the executioner refers to the ‘tacit agreement’ that exists between him and the ‘innocent’ people that condemn him for the murder of 30,000 people. He insists that, far from being innocent, they willed a world in which those atrocities happened and now wish to deny him a voice so that their moral order can be upheld. Kertész also suggests that the path to becoming a perpetrator may begin out of ‘purely helpful intention’. By looking at Fiasco, The Pathseeker and Detective Story, Stephanie Bird considers Kertész’s understanding of perpetration and how this challenges our understanding of responsibility and desire for redemptive narratives. 

Author: Institute of Languages, Cultures and Societies

Speaker(s): Claire Gorrara (University of Cardiff); Emiliano Perra (University of Winchester); Stephanie Bird (UCL)

Organisations: Institute of Languages, Cultures and Societies

Event date: Wednesday, 20 January 2021 - 3:00pm