Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Translating the Untranslatable at the New York Public Library

The summary of my research project at the NYPL is up on the library's site and it's called "Translating the Unimaginable: Holocaust Imagery in the Works of Italian Women Writers."

And the studies I undertook as part of my short-term fellowship also comprise contemplating the unimaginable, the unbelievable, the almost untranslatable. Which is to say the Holocaust, the Shoah, the systemic slaughter of a particular group.

Imagine this: One of the books I requested to study is basically a directory of all the Jews deported from Italy during the war. It's called Il libro della memoria: Gli ebrei deportati dall'Italia (The Memory Book: Jews Deported from Italy).

It's an incredibly important tool for researchers, and represents enormous work on the behalf of the author, Liliana Picciotto.

But can you imagine? It's basically a phone directory of people carted off for slaughter -- a directory whose entries tell you whether the person was in fact slaughtered and where.

I also learned a lot about the particular plight of women in the camps -- a topic that hasn't at all been exhausted. They were torn away from children at a time when women were the primary caregivers. They weren't always slated for work detail so instead they were slated for death. If they were allowed to live, they were shorn of every physical detail that defined them as women -- at a time when women's appearance could define them. Some even gave birth in the camps.

I am sure I am like every other person who stumbles into Holocaust studies -- I feel like I must delve deeper, I must report on what I have learned, and I must continue to study the topic -- because I will never know enough. And we may never fully understand the genesis of this particular evil but we must try.

You can read the piece at the New York Public Library's website here:

I highly recommend the short fellowships, particularly as an independent scholar. They will give you a small stipend to study for two to four weeks in one of the world's most dazzling libraries, fetching every book you could possibly want and bringing it to a private study room.

This year's deadline is Jan. 31, 2022. The application can be found here.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for reading the blog!