Date of Award

4-2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

English

Program

English

First Advisor/Chairperson

Caroline Krzakowski

Abstract

The focus of this thesis is an analysis of post-Holocaust Jewish-American literature with a specific emphasis on texts set in Europe. In particular, I examine how Jewish-American authors who lived in the United States during the Holocaust address issues of trauma and survivor’s guilt through fiction. Informed especially by Theodor Adorno and Elie Wiesel, I examine the ethics of fictionalizing the Holocaust. Furthermore, this thesis considers both trauma theory and the psychology of grief to investigate the ways in which the Jewish-American community at large responded to the cultural destruction perpetrated by the Nazis during the Holocaust. Chapter One analyzes the use of allegory in Isaac Bashevis Singer’s The Slave, a novel set in seventeenth-century Poland. In writing The Slave, Bashevis Singer approaches issues of guilt and the destruction of cultural and religious spaces, as well as the loss of community, in such a way as to give specific voice to the Jewish American community. In Chapter Two, I focus on Cynthia Ozick’s short story “The Shawl,” which is a brief but powerful fictional Holocaust narrative. Ozick’s text examines the ways in which the Holocaust destroys the bonds of family and community, and it grapples with the question of responsibility and blame felt by those who were not directly affected by the Holocaust itself.

Access Type

Open Access

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