Holocaust Memory in the Digital Age explores the nexus of new media and memory practices, raising questions about how advances in digital technologies continue to influence the nature of Holocaust memorialization. Through an in-depth study of the largest and most widely available collection of videotaped interviews with survivors and other witnesses to the Holocaust, the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation's Visual History Archive, Jeffrey Shandler weighs the possibilities and challenges brought about by digital forms of public memory.
The Visual History Archive's holdings are extensive—over 100,000 hours of video, including interviews with over 50,000 individuals—and came about at a time of heightened anxiety about the imminent passing of the generation of Holocaust survivors and other eyewitnesses. Now, the Shoah Foundation's investment in new digital media is instrumental to its commitment to remembering the Holocaust both as a subject of historical importance in its own right and as a paradigmatic moral exhortation against intolerance. Shandler not only considers the Archive as a whole, but also looks closely at individual survivors' stories, focusing on narrative, language, and spectacle to understand how Holocaust remembrance is mediated.
About the author
Jeffrey Shandler is Professor of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University. He is the author of numerous works, including Shtetl: A Vernacular Intellectual History (2014) and Jews, God, and Videotape: Religion and Media in America (2009).
"Jeffrey Shandler once again brings his erudite, incisive mind to address the intersections of media, memory, and recent Jewish history and its memorialization. Diving deep into the Shoah Foundation's Visual History Archive, Shandler explores the project's mission to provide an invaluable record of those who witnessed the unspeakable, while deploying digital technologies as a bulwark against racism and hate."
—Faye Ginsburg, New York University
"In his probing and clear-eyed inquiry into how and what we learn from Holocaust video testimonies, Jeffrey Shandler gives visual history archives of the Holocaust new life in our 'digital age.' A must-read for anyone viewing, teaching, or writing about Holocaust video testimony."
—James E. Young, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
"This original and thought-provoking work demonstrates the value of situating the study of the Holocaust within the context of the digital humanities, of expanding the scope of this type of research to include other genocides and oral history collections, and of fostering an ongoing discussion about how, why, and in what forms life stories will be documented for generations that are to come."
—Sarah Jefferies, Biography