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Kathryn L. Brackney

Junior Fellow (10/2018–06/2019)


Phantom Geographies: An Alternative History of Holocaust Consciousness


BRACKNEYMy dissertation poses two major questions: Why have realism, fragmentation, and minimalism become the primary aesthetic conventions of Holocaust memory in Western Europe, North America and Israel? Before these conventions predominated, how did writers and artists describe the destruction of Europe’s Jewish communities? The sources in this project speak to the wide range of imaginative strategies used by figures such as Avrom Sutzkever, Anna Langfus and Claude Lanzmann to work through the past, and reveal an interplay between an under-studied surreal tradition of representation and more canonical modes of remembering the Holocaust. With a particular focus on spatial configurations of memory, I show how portrayals of victims and survivors have moved over time from an otherworldly “Planet Auschwitz” to the intimate domestic spaces of documentary testimony.


Kathryn L. Brackney is a PhD candidate in the field of modern European intellectual and cultural history at Yale University. Her research has been supported by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the USC Shoah Foundation, DAAD, and the Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism.

July 2024
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The Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI) is funded by:


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