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Remembering, Representing, and Re-imagining the Kindertransport: An Analysis of Literary Genres

Citation: Homer, Stephanie (2020) Remembering, Representing, and Re-imagining the Kindertransport: An Analysis of Literary Genres. Doctoral thesis, School of Advanced Study.

Stephanie Homer_FinalPhDthesis_31July2020_CorrectionsAccepted.pdf

Creative Commons: Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

This research examines the representation of the Kindertransport in memoirs, autobiographical fiction, and recent fiction written by authors with no personal experience of the Kindertransport. With the dwindling numbers of Kindertransportees alive today, living memory is increasingly being transformed into cultural memory; a trend noticeable in the prolific publication of Kindertransport fiction since the beginning of the twenty-first century. This change in memory invites a critical investigation into the ways we will relate to and remember the Kindertransport in a post-survivor era. Accordingly, it is crucial to question how the child refugee's experience and its long-lasting psychological impact are being remembered, represented, and re-imagined in literature, and, consequently, what understanding of the Kindertransport experience is being transmitted to the following generations.

Drawing upon understandings of genre, narratology, and empathy, this study examines the characteristics and capabilities of three literary genres. Each genre is influenced by various generic norms and conventions that, in turn, influence the author's construction of the text, their choice of stylistic and narrative devices, and, consequently, the nature of the representation. This thesis investigates: how memoirists create a retrospective account of their lived experience whilst navigating both personal and collective trauma; the ways in which Kindertransportee authors of autobiographical fiction, who write with more creative freedom, represent the experience of the child refugee; and the opportunities made available to fiction writers, who are less restrained by conventions of historical accuracy and truth-telling. In this regard, the present research engages in debates at the heart of current discussions on Holocaust and Kindertransport memory: the limits of representability, the 'unspeakability' of trauma, and issues of ethics and aesthetics.

Creators: Homer, Stephanie and
Subjects: Culture, Language & Literature
Keywords: Kindertransport, European history, Jewish refugees, child refugees, WW2, literary genres, memoir, autobiographical fiction, fiction, second and third generation refugees
Divisions: Institute of Modern Languages Research
Collections: Theses and Dissertations
  • July 2020 (completed)


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