From the Lancet to the Page: An Analysis of Bloodletting as a Metaphor For Bearing Witness and Its Potentially Deadly Consequences




Severyn, Ryan J.

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By investigating the metaphorical connection between bloodletting and the act of writing and drawing, this thesis examines the effects and potential dangers of bearing witness and recording witness testimonials as it is experienced by first-generation and second-generation Holocaust witnesses/authors respectively. Primo Levi’s works as well as biographical records documenting his life and death are examined as the primary sources for the analysis of the survivor or first-generation witness/author. Art Spiegelman’s graphic novels Maus and Maus II provide the source materials for the exploration of the second or ‘postmemory’ generation’s experience with recording their own inherited transgenerational trauma. To support this metaphorical and theoretical framework, I will engage the theories of Janet McCord and her study on suicide and Holocaust survivors as well as employ the works of Sigmund Freud, Dominick LaCapra, Cathy Caruth and Marianne Hirsch in relation to their work on cultural trauma and memory.



Holocaust, Postmemory, Bearing Witness, Bloodletting, Primo Levi, Art Spiegelman, Maus