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Silence and the Silenced

Interdisciplinary Perspectives

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Edited By Leslie Boldt, Corrado Federici and Ernesto Virgulti

Silence and the Silenced: Interdisciplinary Perspectives comprises a collection of essays from North American and European scholars who examine the various ways in which the theme of silence is developed in literary narratives as well as in such visual media as photography, film, painting, and architecture. The questions of silence and the presence or absence of voice are also explored in the arena of performance, with examples relating to pantomime and live installations. As the book title indicates, two fundamental aspects of silence are investigated: silence freely chosen as a means to deepen meditation and inner reflection and silence that is imposed by external agents through various forms of political repression and censorship or, conversely, by the self in an attempt to express revolt or to camouflage shame. The approaches to these questions range from the philosophical and the psychological to the rhetorical and the linguistic. Together, these insightful reflections reveal the complexity and profundity that surround the function of silence and voice in an aesthetic and social context.

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Part III. Silencing One’s Own Voice

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8. When the Silencer is also the Silenced: The Mechanisms of Self-censorship Magda Stroińska and Vikki Cecchetto Introduction Self-censorship is the act of censoring one’s own spoken or written expres- sion, sometimes simply out of respect for the feelings of others, but most of- ten from the fear of punishment or loss of face. In the present chapter, we analyze some mechanisms of self-censorship in two different autobiograph- ical narratives related to the trauma of war. First we look at the autobiograph- ical novels of the Polish writer, Andrzej Czcibor-Piotrowski, in his trilogy about his childhood experiences and war. We then look at the oral history accounts about the internment experience of Italian-Canadians who were in- terned during WWII because of their ethnic background even though the ma- jority were either born in Canada or were naturalized Canadians. The inter- views were conducted with remaining family members of the interned fathers, grandfathers or uncles for the Italian Canadians during WW2 Oral History Project. Although not interned themselves, these family members also suffered trauma1 from insecurity, shame and/or economic hardship be- cause of the internment of their loved ones. The present essay builds on our previous research on censorship, and how memory affects discourse, trauma and language. Autobiographical writing or oral history interviews are subject to both external and internal censorship (self-censorship). They are also subject to the narrator’s imperfect and/or evolving memory and shifting perspective. As such, an autobiography may be a moving document humaine but cannot al- ways...

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