RESEARCH FORUMS

We are please to announce the details of our next digital research forum:

DATE: Tuesday 9th December

TIME: 12 noon (GMT)

Attendees will need headphones or speakers to participate and may wish to use a microphone, however contributions can be shared via typed message also. Speakers will need a microphone and headphones or speakers. Speakers should ‘arrive’ in the digital space 15 minutes before the start time for sound checks to be carried out.

Interested parties wishing to attend, must register with v.g.walden@qmul.ac.uk by December 1st and will be sent full details regarding access to the digital forum space in due course. Please note, attendance is free of charge.

Chair: Stefanie Rauch, University of Leicester

12 noon: PLAYING WITH THE HOLOCAUST: GAMIFICATION, DIGITAL MEDIA, AND THE INTERACTIVITY-AGENCY SPECTRUM
Dr Adam Brown and Dr Deb Waterhouse-Watson, Deakin University, Melbourne

Abstract: With the ever-expanding impact of ubiquitous digital media in contemporary society come crucial questions for the ongoing remembrance of the Holocaust. The firmly established dominant discourse of the ‘limits of representation’ in relation to Nazi Germany’s genocide of Europe’s Jews seems to position any discussion of the role and potential of ‘play’ in understanding this traumatic past as taboo. While digital media innovation has brought about fundamental shifts in thinking around agency, education, and entertainment, the development of games that include some degree of ‘Holocaust theme’ often inspires an instinctive ‘no’ that (understandably, though not productively) baulks at any sign of apparent ‘trivialisation’ and ‘edutainment’. Adopting a broad definition of ‘gamification’ and exploring various existing forms of play across different media, we examine how screen media platforms are currently being used to respond to and negotiate this traumatic past. Surveying the recent rise of gamification in relation to the Holocaust and related areas, we take as a central case study the design and integration of interactive ‘StoryPods’ by the Jewish Holocaust Centre in Melbourne, Australia. Addressing the limitations and potentialities of digital technologies for facilitating engagement, we argue that interactive screen media can be used to complement and enhance – rather than replace – traditional representational forms. In doing so, we highlight the importance of intertextuality and transmedia storytelling modes in developing complex contextual understandings of the Nazi past.

Paper 2: NEW MEDIA AND YOUNG PEOPLE’S CONSTRUCTION OF HOLOCAUST MEMORY: NEW ETHICAL QUESTIONS

Victoria Grace Walden, Queen Mary, University of London 

Abstract: Ethical discourse about Holocaust representation in visual culture is rooted in four particular ideas: Theodore Adorno’s much mis-appropriated idiom “after Auschwitz, no poetry can be written”; Elie Wiesel’s claim that mainstream media (particularly NBC’s Holocaust miniseries) “trivialises” the Holocaust; Saul Friedlander’s idea of “the limits of representation” and the need for a “new voice”; and finally the now infamous debate between Jean-Luc Godard and Claude Lanzmann about film images and their role in confronting this traumatic past. These ideas have often stemmed directly from Holocaust survivors, resistance fighters or those forced to flee Europe during the reign of the Third Reich.

Alasdair Richardson (2012) recently defined the Holocaust as an “event on the edge of living memory”. While early Holocaust films were often made by, or involved survivors, contemporary Holocaust memory is being constructed by those epistemologically, generationally and technologically distant from the event, and for those who have grown up in the digital age. Authorities of Holocaust memory have new questions to answer in order to ensure these new generations still engage with the past. Furthermore, the democratic online space gives young people the opportunity to create their own memory texts, sometimes without an awareness of the large audience to which they are presenting their ideas. New media offers endless possibilities for Holocaust and genocide memory, but it also introduces new ethical questions. It is easy to lambaste young people for talking selfies at Auschwitz or producing stop-motion Lego animations of gas chambers and publishing these to YouTube.com, however a more productive response would be to critically analyse the potentials and limitations of such platforms and modes of communication. By simply condemning the modes that young people use to communicate, one creates a distance between those who currently presume to have authority over Holocaust memory and those, who in the near-future, may take on this role. The danger in this, is that it might perpetuate a sub-culture of unethical virtual memorialisations which purposely ‘rebel’ against critics. Furthermore, it is impossible to control what internet users across the globe chose to upload, however we can begin to re-evaluate pre-existing ethical frameworks in light of technological change.

In this paper, I will explore some of the new questions digital technology poses for the future of Holocaust memory –the paradigmatic genocide of the modern world- in order to move towards an ethical framework for the future. I will take ‘the selfie’ and ‘stop-motion Lego animation’ as my two case studies. However, I also address the issue of digital literacy and responsibility in the wider context of atrocities and claim that the ethical questions we may pose about Holocaust memory in the digital age can also help us to develop guidance about responding to modern atrocities, images of which are regularly perpetuated on the Web.

Paper 3: DIGITAL CURATING AT THE WIENER LIBRARY, LONDON

Jessica Green, Wiener Library, London

Abstract: The Wiener Library is Britain’s largest archive on the Holocaust and Nazi era. As part of a four-year Heritage Lottery Fund grant, the Library redeveloped its website and developed a stronger online and social media presence through the efforts of the Library’s Outreach Team (Education and Outreach Manager, Community and Outreach Officer, and Web/IT Officer). Largely as a result of the 2011 relocation of the Library to Russell Square, alongside the students of University of London, and the launch of the new website in 2012,  the audiences of the Library have grown substantially, both onsite and online. The Library is now looking to develop its online content and digital collections, the implementation of a new Collections Management System, the development of digital exhibitions and a push for more digitization of the Library’s holdings. In June 2014, the Library hired Jessica Green to take on the new role of Digital Curator, a post that is largely project-based, with an emphasis on digital preservation and accessibility. Aspects of her job include curating digital exhibitions, leading efforts to promote and market new and existing digital resources, working closely with the Community and Outreach Officer to develop social media content, analysing and maintaining web visitor reports, and evaluating and developing the website to accommodate the Library’s digital efforts. One of her priority tasks is to liaise with the Education and Outreach Manager, Senior Librarian, and Director to  write and implement a Digital Policy and Strategy that set guidelines and develop long-term plans for the Library’s digitization effort and online presence. These documents, as well as the process of creating them, will be done in an effort to better link the work of the Library and Outreach Teams and remove barriers to digital collections access, both onsite and online.

 

 

ARCHIVE: 

We are pleased to announce the details of our first digital research forum:

DATE: Tuesday April 22nd

TIME: 12 noon (GMT) 

[6am Chicago; 12 noon London; 1pm Western/Central Europe; 2pm Israel; 12 midnight Wellington, New Zealand] 

Attendees will need headphones or speakers to participate and may wish to use a microphone, however contributions can be shared via typed message also. Speakers will need a microphone and headphones or speakers. Speakers should ‘arrive’ in the digital space 15 minutes before the start time for sound checks to be carried out.

Interested parties wishing to attend, must register with v.g.walden@qmul.ac.uk by March 31st and will be sent full details regarding access to the digital forum space in due course. Please note, attendance is free of charge.

The forum will be formed of 2 parts:

1. Academic Presentations with questions [15 minute papers followed by 20-30 minutes of questions]

2. General meeting to discuss the group’s plans for the forthcoming year  (for those who wish to contribute) [45 minutes] 

Abstracts for the presentations follow:

 Mediatic Changes of a Testimony: Close Reading One Survivor‘s Testimony from Three Archives

Alina Bothe, Zentrum Jüdische Studien Berlin-Brandenburg

In 1946 David Boder arrived in Europe to record survivors‘ memories of the most recent Jewish catastrophe. In DP-Camps he spoke with the She’rit Hapletah, the surviving remnant of European Jewry. His interviews were recorded on wired spools, later transcribed, a few published and most of them forgotten. Boder’s interviews are a milestone in the media history of the oral history of the Shoah. Before he set out for Europe, survivors testimonies were already collected, but he was the first person to dedicate his work to building an archive of audio recordings. In 1995 Steven Spielberg‘s USC Shoah Foundation began to collect and record the world‘s largest visual history archive of Shoah survivors‘ testimonies. Nearly two decades before a change to video instead of audio recording transformed the style of testimony making, Shoah Foundation‘s testimonies hinted already to the next transformation, digitization. In 2003 United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Oral History Department started to re-interview survivors, who had previously been interviewed in 1946 by Boder. These interviews were recorded and transcribed and are available online. Few survivors gave their testimonies to Boder, to Shoah Foundation as well as to the USHMM. These testimonies allow for a complex analysis of the influence of media on testimony production. In a close reading of the testimonies given by Jack B. in 1946, 1996 and 2003 this paper will show different formats of testimony-making due to the media. This will allow for a better understanding of the influence of the media and mediatic changes of survivors testimonies.

 

Visual History Archive Testimonies in Teaching  

Christina Isabel Brüning, Pädagogische Hochschule Freiburg, Germany

In this presentation, I will discuss how the video testimonies from Steven Spielberg’s Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Archive (VHA) challenge Holocaust Education on a didactical and educational level. As I have been working on the topic from both a researcher’s and a teacher’s perspective, I will raise such questions as: What does it mean to teach the Holocaust in the land of the perpetrators but at the same time in heterogeneous classes where cultural, emotional and also temporal distances to the topic are widespread? For this purpose, I will provide evidence from qualitative data and also show students’ products which learners produced when working with VHA testimonies.

In the first part, I will first emphasize the potential of digital testimonies for Holocaust education in schools. Based on my research conducted in German schools, I will show that VHA testimonies enable educators to have their students engage more intensely in the reception of survivors’ narratives. The form of “dialogue” (referred to as “secondary dialogue” by Alina Bothe) or “interaction”/ “encounter” (Brauer/ Assmann) that takes place between the survivor on screen and the recipient/ student is a crucial point for a more personal and empathetic approach than any textbook could ever offer.

However, we also have to discuss the question whether this deepening of understanding and remembrance really works for all students of coming generations where no survivors are left to testify. In a second step, I will therefore point out some specific difficulties among weaker students at lower secondary educational level (Hauptschule and Gesamtschule), especially among students of non-German origin.

 

Digital Technology for Teaching Gender and the Holocaust: Conceptual and Methodological Challenges of using the Visual History Archive

Helga Dorner and Andrea Peto, Central European University, Budapest

This presentation describes the results of a unique interdisciplinary collaboration of university instructors (a historian and an educational researcher), who aimed to provide a meaningful student learning experience by integrating the use of digital archives in the graduate-level social science and humanities classroom focused on the Holocaust.

The use of digital historical resources such as the collection of the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive (hereafter VHA) is reshaping the character of instruction in social sciences and humanities in higher education. In our previous work with colleagues from the University of Minnesota, we explored various digital archives through classrooms connected via web-conferencing and identified various drivers and barriers to the systematic and purposeful use of these resources. (For insights about the collaboration see the video on this case study: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IE6vk4pzemw). We further pursued this investigation, and in the current paper we analyze the challenges this particular digital archive, the VHA, poses to those who wish to use it in teaching and learning about gendered perspectives on the Holocaust. And, we focus on students’ self-perceived learning as a result of their experience with using digital testimonies and address the question whether a “pedagogical revolution” was possible with using VHA and iWitness especially in the case of teaching about sensitive topics to graduate students of gender studies.

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