Bearing witness to the Holocaust in the courtroom of American fictive film

Jordan, James (2003) Bearing witness to the Holocaust in the courtroom of American fictive film. University of Southampton, School of Humanities, Doctoral Thesis , 211pp.


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From the first post-war trials to the recent libel trial in the London High Court brought
by Holocaust denier David Irving against Penguin Books and American academic
Deborah Lipstadt the real-life courtroom has provided more than a legal judgment in
respect of the Holocaust. As legal scholar Lawrence Douglas has shown in The
Memory of Judgment: Making Law and History in the Trials of the Holocaust (2001),
this formal, institutionalised and controlled setting has also been the forum for an
increasingly nuanced, often intentionally pedagogic, examination of the Holocaust.
After nearly sixty years of trials there is a corpus of judicial proceedings that chronicles
not only society's desire for justice but also the changing understanding of the
Holocaust, how it is remembered and how that memory is to be safeguarded.
Analogous to this sequence of trials, American film has consistently utilised the law and
the dialectic of the courtroom in its own attempts to represent, understand and explain
the horror of the Holocaust, hi this thesis I provide a cultural history of these films (a
generic term that encompasses both cinema releases and television movies/miniseries)
to examine how the depiction, pertinence and understanding of the Holocaust in
American life have altered since the 1940s. It is a thesis grounded in the tension
between film and history as it explores how the fictive courtroom has represented the
real-life trials as well as the Holocaust. This explores how the cinema has used different
strategies of representation to bear witness in the cinematic courtroom to an event
which is said to defy representation. In conclusion it argues that the courtroom is a
setting with its limitations in respect of Holocaust representation, but it is these very
limitations which are the reason for the courtroom genre's continued appeal.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D731 World War II
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Humanities > English
ePrint ID: 50607
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
September 2003Made publicly available
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2008
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:28

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