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 Volume 17/1, includes forum "Narrative Selves"
 January 2019

 Volume 16/2, includes forum on Monika Fludernik's Towards a 'Natural' Narratology
 June 2018

 Volume 16/1 includes forum "Modernity and Mobility: Victorian Women Traveling"
 January 2018

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 June 2011

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 January 2011

 Volume 8/2: British Women Writers
 June 2010

 Volume 8/1 includes forum "The Ethics of Temporality"
 January 2010

 Volume 7/2: Eyewitness Narratives
 June 2009

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 Volume 6/2: Narrative Knowing, Living, Telling
 June 2008

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 Quick Article Search

   Newest Articles

 Response Essay
 Monika Fludernik

 Experience, Affect, and Literary Lists
 Eva von Contzen

 Posthuman Narration as a Test Bed for Experientiality
 Marco Caracciolo

 The Curse of Realism
 Karin Kukkonen

 More than Minds
 Jonas Grethlein

 Toward the Non-Natural
 Maria Mäkelä

 Two Conceptions of Experientiality and Narrativity
 Dan Shen

 Against Nature
 Brian McHale

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Updated Up To 26/06/2018
Volume 7, Number 2 (June 2009) : 261--78
Narrative Tensions
The Archive and the Eyewitness
Jeffrey Wallen
Rubric A: Eyewitness Narratives



There is a basic tension between eyewitness narratives and archival records (which have attracted the attention for many artists and intellectuals in the last decade or two). Archival material bears the imprint of the bureaucratic, of that which has been institutionally preserved. It gives us traces of the dead, evidence of the past that has been recorded but not (yet) processed; it exists as a mnemonic device, as that which awaits the coming of the researcher to be brought back to life. The eyewitness narrative, on the other hand, is intensely personal, even if also collective. The opposition between these two modes of representation and of memory itself has a long history. In “Plato’s Pharmacy” Jacques Derrida stages and deconstructs the opposition between memory and re- and com-memoration, between the living truth and the archive.  More recently, Giorgio Agamben, writing about the new Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, analyzes the differences between the “unforgettable” and that which can be recalled to memory and archived.

This paper  examines the ways in which the dynamic relations between the living and the dead, the private and the public, the fragment and the whole, the personal and the institutional, and the autobiographical and the historical, inform and complicate -- in different ways -- both the eyewitness narrative and the archive. The discussion will focus on the Memorial at Hohenschönhausen to the East German victims of the Stasi (at the site of the former interrogation center and prison, where the tours are all conducted by former inmates), and the Stasi Museum at the site of the former Stasi headquarters, with its miles of archival files.

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