CFP: Charlotte Delbo’s Testimony: Representation and Transmission

This one-day conference open to all marks the centenary of Charlotte Delbo’s birth. It is organised by the Group for War and Culture Studies, University of Westminster and the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London, with the support of the French Institute in London, which will host the event.

“This is how it all happened and never do I invent.” Delbo (1913-1985) used this quote from Jean Giraudoux’s Electre as an epigraph to her book Le Convoi du 24 janvier, where she presents short biographies of the 230 women deported with her to Auschwitz-Birkenau. It conveys two messages. First, that Delbo’s writings represent her testimony given in all truthfulness; and second, that her testimony is mediated through literature, as shown by her use of a theatrical character.

In the centenary of Charlotte Delbo’s birth this conference aims to highlight the contribution that Delbo, although not Jewish, made toHolocaust testimonial writing. The conference will examine the particular literary devices she used to re-present the unimaginable – the horror of a death camp – and the efficacy of these literary devices in the transmission of her testimony. Equally, it will look to situate her among other writers who witnessed the Holocaust, with the hope of engaging in a wider discussion of literary testimony and representation of the Nazi camp experience.

The conference will conclude with a performance of extracts from Delbo’s prose by the theatre group, Nomad.

Proposals for papers of 20 minutes are welcome on the following themes, but are not restricted to them:

-The role of literature in re-presenting (making present) the Nazi camp experience

-Testimony through theatre: Delbo’s Qui rapportera ces paroles? [Who Will Carry the Word?] in comparison with other Holocaust plays

-Delbo’s poetic writings and distinctive prose narrative structures

-The relationship between literature and history in the testimonial writings of Delbo and other witnesses.

Proposals of 250 words accompanied by a short CV, institutional affiliation (where relevant) and contact details, should be sent to: conference.delbo@gmail.com by 10 December 2012. Notification of acceptance of papers will be made by the end of December.

Organisers -Dr Ludivine Broch, Pears Institute Early Career Research Fellow, Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London -Dr Luke Dixon, Theatre Director, Nomad -Professor David Feldman, Director, Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London -Dr Nicole Thatcher, Visiting Research Fellow, Group for War and Culture Studies, University of Westminster

Ludivine Broch
Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism
Birkbeck, University of London
26 Russell Square
London, WC1B 5DQ
UK
+44 (0)20 7631 6613

Email: l.broch@bbk.ac.uk

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