Professor Rohr’s talk at NYU's Deutsches Haus will offer a detailed examination of concentration camp comedy in film by addressing its specific powers of representation.

On Tuesday, October 20, at 6:30 p.m., Deutsches Haus at NYU (42 Washington Mews, New York, N.Y) will presents a talk by our DAAD visiting scholar, Professor Susanne Rohr, who will speak on “Subversion and Sentiment: On the Perils of Concentration Camp Comedy.”

Professor Rohr’s talk will offer a detailed examination of concentration camp comedy in film by addressing its specific powers of representation. Films of this type are taboo breakers in that they weave together the theme of genocide with specific forms of comedy and therewith subject the viewing of historical atrocities to an open negotiation of its aesthetic dimensions. Concentration camp comedies expose or make evident the relationships between ethics and aesthetics not to argue for the unrepresentability of the event, but rather, to question the rhetoric of the claim of unrepresentability that has established itself over the past decades. An analysis of the representational strategies of Radu Mihaileanu’s film comedy Train de Vie, (1998) [Train of Life] will show how the pop-culturally established conventions of Holocaust representation become the aim of the film’s humorous attacks and how the techniques of transgression and taboo-breaking are employed to simultaneously trigger grief and shock in the viewer within the act of laughter, reactions that are decidedly in contrast to comedic pleasure and thus function to evoke the historical event in both a subtle and yet powerfully corporeal manner.

Susanne Rohr will be introduced by Gennady Estraikh, Clinical Associate Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies and Rauch Associate Professor of Yiddish Studies, NYU Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies.

Susanne Rohr is professor of American Studies at Hamburg University, Germany. She received her academic education at the John F. Kennedy Institute of the Free University Berlin and Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. From 1986-1994 Susanne Rohr was a member of the academic faculty at Stanford University, Study Center Berlin. As of October 2006 Susanne Rohr is full professor of American literature and culture and chair of American Studies at Hamburg University. She is the author of Comedy – Avant-Garde – Scandal: Remembering the Holocaust after the End of History, (2010) (together with Andrew S. Gross); Die Wahrheit der Täuschung: Wirklichkeitskonstitution im amerikanischen Roman 1889-1989, (2004) [True Deception: Reality Constitution in the American Novel 1889-1989]; and Über die Schönheit des Findens. Die Binnenstruktur menschlichen Verstehens nach Charles S. Peirce: Abduktionslogik und Kreativität, 1993 [On the Beauty of Discovery. The Internal Structure of Human Understanding According to Charles S. Peirce: Creativity and Logic of Abduction]. Susanne Rohr has also published numerous essays in the fields of literary and cultural theory, semiotics, American pragmatism, epistemology, and on a broad range of topics in American literature of the 19th and 20th centuries. She teaches a wide range of courses on American literature and culture. In 2006 she was awarded the “Outstanding teacher award 2005-06” from the J. F. Kennedy Institute, Berlin (determined by student vote). Susanne also received the Goethe-Prize 1984 from Cornell University for an essay on Irmtraud Morgner’s The Life and Adventures of Trobadora Beatrice as Chronicled by Her Minstrel Laura: A Novel in Thirteen Books and Seven Intermezzos.

Events at Deutsches Haus are free of charge. If you would like to attend this event, please send us an email to Space at Deutsches Haus is limited, please arrive ten minutes prior to the event. Thank you!

Subversion and Sentiment: On the Perils of Concentration Camp Comedy is a DAAD supported event.


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