The study analyzes the way in which cultures represent and make sense of catastrophic events through the medium of the visual arts. This work should appeal to scholars interested in art history, film studies, cultural studies, and psychoanalysis. When attempting to represent a catastrophic event in history the tendency is to disavowal the event by referring to it as "unimaginable," or otherwise such events are assigned to the domain of "fiction" or "fantasy." For example, in response to 9/11 and the images of the planes flying into buildings, many responded "it was like I was watching a movie." How then, when our knee-jerk response is to assign catastrophic events to the "incomprehensible" or the domain of utter fantasy, do we convey the reality of these events? What rhetorical strategies are at our disposal? How are catastrophic events, such as the Holocaust or Hiroshima represented, when we no longer have an immediate relationship to them? When the last survivors of these catastrophic events are gone, how will we relate to representations of these events?
What rhetorical strategies will prove most useful in conveying the historical significance of these events, even when the physical traces are gone? This book addresses these questions.
Dr. Aaron Kerner is Assistant Professor in Cinema at San Francisco State University. He received his Ph.D. in Sociology from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. Dr. Kerner's book chapter, "Gojira vs. Godzilla," appears in Mark Franko's Ritual and Event.
Preface; Acknowledgements; Introduction: Representing the Catastrophic; Catastrophic History: The Qualities of Catastrophe; Witness and the Historical Process: Testifying to the Catastrophic; Allegory: History as Palimpsest; Gojira vs. Godzilla: Allegories of a Catastrophic Event; Marquis de Sade: The Allegories of a Catastrophic Historian; Pier Paolo Pasolini's Salo: The 120 Days of Sodom: Cinema that Speaks Abjection; Documentary: Documenting Cinema; Catastrophic Comics; Conclusion: Reconstructing Memories; Bibliography; Filmography; Index.