Peter Novick is professor of history at the University of Chicago. He is the author of The Resistance Versus Vichy and That Noble Dream: The Objectivity Question and the American Historical Profession, which won the American Historical Association's prize for the best book of the year in American history.
Throughout, the author seeks to go beyond the debates inspired by Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi's influential Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory, often regarded as the seminal work in the field of Jewish communal memory, by focusing not on whether Jews in a pre-modern community had a historical consciousness, but rather on the ways in which they perceived and preserved their history. In doing this, Greenblatt opens a window onto the roles that local traditions, aesthetic sensibilities, gender, social hierarchies, and political and financial pressures played in the construction of local memories.
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.
This collection thus looks for interactions between the public and private, and what is more, it does so from a still rather rare comparative perspective, both chronological and geographic. It is this interdisciplinary and comparative perspective that enables us to scrutinize the interaction between the individual majority societies and the Jewish minorities in a longer time frame, and hence we are able to revisit complex and manifold encounters between Jews and Gentiles, including but not limited to propaganda, robbery, violence but also help and rescue. In doing so, this collection challenges the representation of these encounters in post-war literature, films, and the historical consciousness. This book was originally published as a special issue of Holocaust Studies.