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Revisiting Style in Literary and Cultural Studies

Interdisciplinary Articulations

Edited By Jasmin Herrmann, Moritz Ingwersen, Björn Sonnenberg-Schrank and Olga Ludmila Tarapata

The collected volume brings together leading scholars from a broad range of disciplines in the humanities to interrogate the productivity of style as an element of cultural expression and a parameter of cultural analysis. Despite its ubiquity in examinations of artistic singularity or postulations of epochal patterns, style remains a notoriously elusive concept. Suspicious of monolithic definitions, the contributions assembled in this volume address style from a multiplicity of methodological and conceptual angles, drawing from fields that include literary studies, film and media studies, post-structuralist philosophy, philosophy of science, and American cultural studies.

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17 Black and White: Different Ways of (Re-)Presenting the Holocaust

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Abstract: The term “style” has not appeared in previous debates about a morally and aesthetically adequate representation of the Holocaust. The reasons for this curious restraint are obvious: The term is avoided in the context of the Holocaust, firstly because it lends more weight to form than to content, and secondly because it ultimately relativizes the objects which it refers to: although it aims at something special, characteristic, peculiar, it can be applied to everything: persons, attitudes, behaviors, cultures, epochs, etc. However, these reservations are justified only when applied to the “conventional” concept of style. Ever since Susan Sontag’s reflections on style, they have become obsolete. Against the backdrop of Sontag’s concepts and reflections this article attempts to compare the two extremely different exhibitions on the crimes of the German Wehrmacht (1995–1999 and 2001–2004). The aim of this procedure is to grasp the peculiarity of the represented object as well as the effects it has on observers and users.

Keywords: Susan Sontag, photography, force, will, jouissance, Wehrmacht exhhibition, war crimes, Holocaust, memory, affect, Daniel Goldhagen, George Didi-Huberman, George Lanzmann, Stelenfeld

Contemporary discussions dealing with the style of works of art, typical of certain individuals, cultures or epochs, the lifestyle of a generation or social class, or other ‘styles of X,’ are no longer based on the assumption that ‘style’ is a matter only of form sufficiently distinguishable from a so-called content. The term “style” has long been regarded as indicative of...

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