The Q-tutorial “Generations of Postmemory” focuses on the topic of trauma and its manifestations in visual art and literature, produced by so-called generations of postmemory. In this research tutorial, students critically assess Marianne Hirsch’s concept of postmemory, which she used as a framework to analyze the intergenerational legacy of the Holocaust and how visual art and literature of the so-called post generation bear traces of passed down trauma.
Through critical engagement with Hirsch’s work but also other scholarly texts such as Avery Gordon’s Ghostly Matters, students rethink the concept of postmemory in a larger historical context, which therefore also includes other traumata. Thus, students engage with larger theoretical questions such as:
What constitutes a post generation? Are there several generations (legacies), which could be covered by this term? How is memory shaped by trauma? Who is allowed to tell their stories in what way? How are these stories narrated? Are there specific artistic conventions, themes and motifs that can be found in works of post-generations across cultural, political, social and national contexts? Can narratives of postmemory be a productive way of coping with trauma? Can these narratives challenge or alter the official narration of history? What roles do gender, class and race play in narratives of postmemory?
The research character of this tutorial encourages students to find a piece of visual art or literature of their own interest, produced by artists who belong to so-called generations of postmemory. This might include visual and textual narratives by second- or third-generation Holocaust survivors. However, students might also be interested in artists who belong to the African diaspora or indigenous populations of former British, French, Dutch and German colonies. These projects can focus on a variety of aspects such as gender, class and race and their connection to postmemory.
The tutorial gives time to students to prepare and present their research in form of essays, which will later be posted on a blog.