Reclaiming the 'Ruins of Memory': Gender, Agency, and Imagination in Stories of the Shoah
2022 Annual Sara and Asa Shapiro Lecture Series

In recounting the past, Holocaust survivors deliberately or unconsciously craft the stories they recount about the Shoah. Whether through literature, memoirs, or testimony, survivors shape stories about the past while signaling what remains unsaid. Deferred memories - stories told many decades after the events occurred - often address issues that survivors did not dare or could not bear to recount earlier. Looking at these deferred stories through the lens of gender, we will explore how survivors craft accounts that insist on reclaiming, owning, and interpreting what the writer Ida Fink called “the ruins of memory,” often against the grain and in tension with academic interpretation.