The Photo-Fiction of Migration: History, Memory, and Identity in Aleksandar Hemon and W. G. Sebald

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The Photo-Fiction of Migration: History, Memory, and Identity in Aleksandar Hemon and W. G. Sebald
Type: Master thesis
Title: The Photo-Fiction of Migration: History, Memory, and Identity in Aleksandar Hemon and W. G. Sebald
Author: Zelnick, Sharon
Issue Date: 2018-01-31
Keywords: Photo-Fiction
Photography-Embedded Literature
Migratory Aesthetics
Migrant Identities
Image/Text
Aleksandar Hemon
W. G. Sebald
Memory and Photography
Hybridity
Desired Memories
Abstract: This thesis explores how the hybrid form of photo-fiction suits migrants’ experiences. Taking Aleksandar Hemon’s The Lazarus Project (2008) and W. G. Sebald’s The Emigrants (1996) as my case studies, I focus on themes of history, memory, and identity. I analyze how the tensions between photographs and prose complicate our understanding of the way traumatic historical events shape the present, the unjust historical treatment that migrants endure, the mobilization and materialization of memories, the constructed nature of migrant identities, and the way exile becomes a desired state of being in the world. Through comparative close readings of Hemon and Sebald’s novels I explore how both authors challenge the conventional notion that photography’s telos is bearing witness to historical truths and how their novels also call for a reconsideration of the relationship between memory and photography. I seek to show that the hybrid photo-fiction form, which emphasizes blurriness and dualities inherent in acts of memory and in constructions of self-histories and identities, illuminates how migrants meaningfully engage with the world. Sebald and Hemon’s novels move us between two aesthetics, engage us with two modes of storytelling, and in doing so highlight the positive nature of hybridity and the beauty in rootlessness and rupture.
Supervisor: Alphen, E.J. van
Faculty: Faculty of Humanities
Department: Media Studies (Master)
Specialisation: Comparative Literature and Literary Theory
ECTS Credits: 20
Handle: http://hdl.handle.net/1887/58400
 

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