French

Charlotte France Werbe

Assistant Professor

French

Contact

Box

Campus Box 0411

Address

McKnight Hall
Room 16
300 North Washington St.
Gettysburg, PA 17325-1400

Education

PhD Princeton University, 2018
MA University of Massachusetts - Amherst, 2012
Mount Holyoke College, 2010

Academic Focus

Visual Studies, Cinema, Comics, Testimony, Holocaust Literature, Yiddish, 20th + 21st c. French Literature, Translation

Working at the crossroads of media studies, literary studies, sociology, and politics, I read testimony—whether legal, religious, or artistic—as a sophisticated, audience-oriented speech act. My first book project, a manuscript titled After the Fact: Encounters in Holocaust Testimony, examines Holocaust testimonial practices in an archive of experimental graphic novels, films, and literary memoirs. I argue that these works stage the mediatic and sociohistorical conditions of their production, and in the process overturn some of the hallmark conventions of testimony—namely, coherence, consistency, and credibility. Through such innovations these works preserve the authenticity of their narratives, while also revealing the contradictory demands that are always inevitably caught up in the act of bearing witness. My study intervenes in ongoing and emerging discussions about personal and collective acts of remembrance, attending closely to the ways in which hegemonic discourse shapes the creation and transmission of knowledge. The archival holdings at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, and The Institute for Visual History and Education at the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation provided the historical sources for my study of testimony.

If testimony is traditionally associated with the legal or religious spheres, today it is frequently called upon to disrupt the status quo and promote social and institutional changes. My second book project, titled Dislocating Testimony in the Age of New Media, traces how a testimonial vernacular originating in Holocaust Studies travels and is being repurposed by new media-centered approaches to bearing witness. My analysis considers how new techniques of storing and representing memory are transforming the institutional spaces and discourses of education, public activism, and academic engagement. I examine social and humanitarian movements on Twitter (#JesuisCharlie, #Balancetonporc); in cinema (Amandine Gay’s Ouvrir la voix, Raymond Depardon’s 12 jours); and in museum exhibitions and installations (Esther Shalev-Gerz’s Entre l’écoute et la paroleand Ton image me regarde). I read these initiatives, movements, and projects as forming a constellation of testimonial practices, one in which storytelling is reimagined outside of the prevailing dictates of Enlightenment reason, realist narrative, and empiricist discourses of evidence. In this way, I argue for the mutual evolution of testimony and new media as interlocking genres and practices of public discourse. To dislocate testimony, then, is to consider the network of connecting and disconnecting stories produced through the electronic dissemination of knowledge today.

 

My work has been published in The Journal of Holocaust Research, The Journal of Literature and Trauma Studies and the edited volume Shoah et bande dessinée: L'image au service de la mémoire. I have articles forthcoming in French Forum and a special issue of Etudes Francophones.

 

Courses Taught

  • Article Days of Terror, An Excerpt Yiddish in Translation

  • Article Werbe on Oksman H-Net, Book Reviews

  • Chapter Un Récit à Deux Temps Shoah et bande dessinée: l’image au service de la mémoire

  • Article Traumatic Memory and Bodily Inscription in Georges Perec’s W ou Le souvenir d’enfance and Philippe Grimbert’s Un secret he Journal of Literature and Trauma Studies

  • Article Teacher's Packet: Elie Wiesel's Night The Yiddish Book Center

  • Article Retroactive Continuity, Holocaust Testimony, and X-Men’s Magneto The Journal of Holocaust Research

  • Article Communicating Difference: Charlotte Delbo and Holocaust Testimony (forthcoming) French Forum

  • Article Remediating the Document: Photographs and Drawn Images in Mickey au camp de Gurs (forthcoming) Etudes Francophones (special issue on comics and intermediality, eds. J. Baetens, F. Leroy, H. Frey