Witnessing Witnessing focuses critical attention on those who receive the testimony of
Holocaust survivors. We invite you to a presentation and conversation with the author.
Questioning the notion that traumatic experience is
intrinsically unspeakable and that the Holocaust thus lies in a
quasi-sacred realm beyond history, the book asks whether much current
theory does not have the effect of silencing the voices of real
historical victims. It thereby challenges widely accepted theoretical
views about the representation of trauma in general and the Holocaust in
particular as set forth by Giorgio Agamben, Cathy Caruth, Berel Lang,
and Dori Laub. It also reconsiders, in the work of Theodor Adorno and
Emmanuel Levinas, reflections on ethics and aesthetics after Auschwitz
as these pertain to the reception of testimony.
length to videotaped testimony and to texts by Charlotte Delbo, Primo
Levi, and Jorge Semprun, the book aims to make these voices heard. In
doing so, it clarifies the problems that anyone receiving testimony may
encounter and emphasizes the degree to which listening to survivors
depends on listening to ourselves and to one another.
Witnessing Witnessing seeks to show how, in the situation of address in which Holocaust
survivors call upon us, we discover our own tacit assumptions about the
nature of community and the very manner in which we practice it.
Thomas Trezise is Professor of French at Princeton University, where he
teaches modern French literature, literary theory, continental
philosophy, and Holocaust Studies. His previous publications include Into the Breach: Samuel Beckett and the Ends of Literature, the French
translation of Paul de Man’s Allegories of Reading, the American edition
and co-translation of Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe’s The Subject of
Philosophy, and an edited collection entitled Encounters with Levinas.