Capturing the Real, Raw Experience of Humanity: An Exploration of Maus and Documenting Trauma

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Authors
Haegele, Ally
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Gupta, Soumitree
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2021
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Title
Capturing the Real, Raw Experience of Humanity: An Exploration of Maus and Documenting Trauma
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The copious amounts of stories about the Holocaust act as testament of humanity’s desire to commit it to memory and avoid repeating it, but a 2018 study found that the Holocaust is fading from memory, nonetheless (Astor). Using the graphic memoir Maus by Art Spiegelman (a Holocaust survivor story, documented by the survivor’s son) as the inspiration material for my research, I examine why first-person narratives are crucial and impactful in documenting human trauma. As Sarah Horowits explains, first-person accounts function as “the ‘moral witness’ [first-person account that] keeps the human toll in the center of the frame… [and] contains a call to ethics for the listener” (Greenspan 205). I apply this framework to examine the emotional power of Holocaust survivor testimonies and their ethical ramifications for the audience, and examine how first-person narratives have the power to bear witness to trauma without desensitizing us, and thus serve as an emotionally authentic and powerful mode of documenting and remembering trauma for generations to come.
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