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Rhetoric and the cultural trauma: An analysis of Jan T. Gross’ book Fear. Anti-Semitism in Poland after Auschwitz

Törnquist-Plewa, Barbara LU (2014) In Memory Studies 7(2). p.161-175
Abstract
This study deals with the historian Jan T Gross’ book Fear, published in 2006 in the United States and in 2008 in Poland. The book deserves special attention because it became one of the most discussed historical works in post-Communist Poland. In Fear, just as in his previous book Neighbors (2000), Gross challenged the Poles’ view of themselves as solely innocent victims of German Nazism and argued that anti-Semitism could and did lead them to kill Jews, both during and after the war. The author of the article seeks to answer the question as to what made the Poles react so strongly to Fear. She argues that the reasons are not only to be found in the book’s message and the political context in which it appeared but also in the mode of... (More)
This study deals with the historian Jan T Gross’ book Fear, published in 2006 in the United States and in 2008 in Poland. The book deserves special attention because it became one of the most discussed historical works in post-Communist Poland. In Fear, just as in his previous book Neighbors (2000), Gross challenged the Poles’ view of themselves as solely innocent victims of German Nazism and argued that anti-Semitism could and did lead them to kill Jews, both during and after the war. The author of the article seeks to answer the question as to what made the Poles react so strongly to Fear. She argues that the reasons are not only to be found in the book’s message and the political context in which it appeared but also in the mode of historical representation applied by Gross. The specific rhetoric of Fear has been noted by its critics, but no one analysed it closely. This study intends to fill that gap. The present author’s thesis is that in Fear, Gross uses the rhetorical design of a deliberative speech, and by so doing, anchors his narrative in the present and demands future action by his readers. This combination of telling about past events and pointing to their present relevance makes his narrative performance very different from conventional historiography. The value of Gross’ work lies not primarily in his contribution to the body of existing knowledge but in its functionality and performativity (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Anti-Semitism, Poland, Jan T. Gross, cultural trauma, debate, rhetoric, historical representation, performativity
in
Memory Studies
volume
7
issue
2
pages
161 - 175
publisher
SAGE Publications Inc.
external identifiers
  • wos:000332703500003
  • scopus:84897790011
ISSN
1750-6980
DOI
10.1177/1750698012470837
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
9b5c668a-43d7-44b2-8286-c40e3a4eadb6 (old id 4248567)
alternative location
http://mss.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/01/29/1750698012470837
date added to LUP
2014-01-17 13:25:11
date last changed
2017-01-01 03:58:15
@article{9b5c668a-43d7-44b2-8286-c40e3a4eadb6,
  abstract     = {This study deals with the historian Jan T Gross’ book Fear, published in 2006 in the United States and in 2008 in Poland. The book deserves special attention because it became one of the most discussed historical works in post-Communist Poland. In Fear, just as in his previous book Neighbors (2000), Gross challenged the Poles’ view of themselves as solely innocent victims of German Nazism and argued that anti-Semitism could and did lead them to kill Jews, both during and after the war. The author of the article seeks to answer the question as to what made the Poles react so strongly to Fear. She argues that the reasons are not only to be found in the book’s message and the political context in which it appeared but also in the mode of historical representation applied by Gross. The specific rhetoric of Fear has been noted by its critics, but no one analysed it closely. This study intends to fill that gap. The present author’s thesis is that in Fear, Gross uses the rhetorical design of a deliberative speech, and by so doing, anchors his narrative in the present and demands future action by his readers. This combination of telling about past events and pointing to their present relevance makes his narrative performance very different from conventional historiography. The value of Gross’ work lies not primarily in his contribution to the body of existing knowledge but in its functionality and performativity},
  author       = {Törnquist-Plewa, Barbara},
  issn         = {1750-6980},
  keyword      = {Anti-Semitism,Poland,Jan T. Gross,cultural trauma,debate,rhetoric,historical representation,performativity},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {161--175},
  publisher    = {SAGE Publications Inc.},
  series       = {Memory Studies},
  title        = {Rhetoric and the cultural trauma: An analysis of Jan T. Gross’ book Fear. Anti-Semitism in Poland after Auschwitz},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1750698012470837},
  volume       = {7},
  year         = {2014},
}