Finding words and images with which to describe and come to terms with a disaster is a psychological necessity, but it also inevitably manifests socio-cultural habits of thought and political interests. Language shapes, distorts and appropriates an occurrence that is not just a shocking and all too real destruction of life, property and the environment, but also a social construct. The ‘unrepresentability’ of the experience of a disaster and the textuality of the represented event – and thus also the contradictions, ruptures and silences inevitably created by the tensions between ‘reality’ and ‘representation’ – are the focus of the essays collected in this volume. Thirteen contributions by internationally active researchers in the fields of literary and cultural studies, history, sociology and philosophy provide interdisciplinary perspectives on the ways in which we write and think about the unimaginable.
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2007. 226 pp., 8 fig., 3 tables, 5 graphs
Contents: Angela Stock/Cornelia Stott: Introduction: Narratives of Disaster – Ole Peter Grell: Faith and Early Modern
Ways of Making Sense of Natural Disasters – Christoph Weber: God’s Wrath or Accidents of Nature? Conflicting Perspectives
in the Representation of Natural Disasters in 18th-Century Germany – Anne Eyre: Post-disaster Rituals and Symbols
– J. John Lennon/Hugh Smith: Shades of Dark: Interpretation and Commemoration at the Sites of Concentration Camps at Terezin
and Lety, Czech Republic – Andrew S. Gross: At the Limits of Representation: Counter-tourism in Jean Améry and W. G. Sebald
– Gwyneth Bodger: ‘There’s no business like Shoah business’: Commemoration and Commodification of the Holocaust – Torsten
Hitz: How Passive Suffering Became a Theme for Poetry: Shell Shock and the Poetry of World War I – Thelma Wills Foote: Natural
Disaster, the Uncanny and Audre Lorde’s ‘Afterimages’ – Susanne Kern: Representing without Presenting: War and its Disastrous
Impact in J. M. Coetzee’s Life & Times of Michael K – Sylvia Mayer: The Rhetoric of Toxic Discourse: The Ironic Mode
in John Cheever’s Oh What AParadise It Seems – Anya Heise-von der Lippe: Post-apocalyptic Bodies: The Gothic
Dystopias of Margaret Atwood and Angela Carter – Greg Bankoff: ‘Regions of Risk’: Western Discourses on Terrorism and the
Significance of Islam – Trees Depoorter: Quite an Event: The Life of the Mind in the Light of Disaster.