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Family Frames
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Hirsch provocatively explores the photographic conventions for constructing family relationships and discusses artistic strategies for challenging those constructions. When we capture our family photographically, we are often responding to an idealized image. Contemporary artists and writers, Hirsch shows, have exposed the gap between lived reality and a perceived ideal to witness contradictions that shape visual representations of parents and children, siblings, lovers, or extended families. Exploring fiction, "imagetexts, " and photographic essays, she elucidates their subversive devices, giving particular attention to literal and metaphorical masks. While permitting false impressions and misreadings, family photos have also proved a powerful means for shaping personal and cultural memory. Hirsch highlights a striking example: a wide variety of family pictures surviving the Holocaust and the wrenching displacements of late twentieth-century history. Whether personal treasures, artistic constructions, or museum installations, these images link private memory to collective history.
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About the Author

MARIANNE HIRSCH is William Peterfied Trent Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and Professor in the Institute for Research on Women and Gender. She is Vice-President of the Modern Language Association of America. Her current interests include cultural memory, testimony and photography. Her most recent books are Ghosts of Home: The Afterlife of Czernowitz in Jewish Memory, written with Leo Spitzer; Rites of Return: Diaspora Poetics and the Politics of Memory, co-edited with Nancy K. Miller, and The Generation of Postmemory: Writing and Visual Culture After the Holocaust. She is also the author of The Mother/Daughter Plot: Narrative Psychoanalysis, Feminism and editor or co-editor of a number of volumes, including Conflicts in Feminism, The Familial Gaze, and Teaching the Representation of the Holocaust.

Reviews

Marianne Hirsch's new book, "Family Frames, looks at family photographs in literature and culture. Although its critical gaze ranges quite broadly--touching upon most of the writers, photographers, and critics who have been centrally concerned with family photography--the book begins and ends by considering family photos in relation to the Holocaust. This nonstandard frame for the subject puts both photography and the family into bold, new relief...This is not a cool, calm book, perfectly synthesizing nostalgia and critique. This is a brave, strong, struggling book, honest in letting us see an unflattering image of the critic. She combines what is seldom seen together: a feminist critique of the family as "haven in a heartless world" with a loving daughter's sensitivity to her Holocaust survivor parents' need to conserve a family threatened with radical loss. Marianne Hirsch's "Family Frames" offer s complex and useful new ways to understand our desire for and mediation of memory and history. -- Martin Sturken "Afterimage" Hirsch contemplates the relationships among images, family life, memory, lost memory and memory across generations--or "postmemory" as she calls it. For her, photographs and other images are talismans, clues and building blocks of meaning. There are no innocent snapshots for her; all recording is action fraught with political and social implication. -- Pat Aufderheide "Women's Review of Books" Marianne Hirsch's new book, "Family Frames," looks at family photographs in literature and culture. Although its critical gaze ranges quite broadly--touching upon most of the writers, photographers, and critics who have been centrally concerned with family photography--the book begins and ends by considering family photos in relation to the Holocaust. This nonstandard frame for the subject puts both photography and the family into bold, new relief...This is not a cool, calm book, perfectly synthesizing nostalgia and critique. This is a brave, strong, struggling book, honest in letting us see an unflattering image of the critic. She combines what is seldom seen together: a feminist critique of the family as "haven in a heartless world" with a loving daughter's sensitivity to her Holocaust survivor parents' need to conserve a family threatened with radical loss. -- Jane Gallop "Visual Resources" Marianne Hirsch's new book, "Family Frames", looks at family photographs in literature and culture. Although its critical gaze ranges quite broadly--touching upon most of the writers, photographers, and critics who have been centrally concerned with family photography--the book begins and ends by considering family photos in relation to the Holocaust. This nonstandard frame for the subject puts both photography and the family into bold, new relief...This is not a cool, calm book, perfectly synthesizing nostalgia and critique. This is a brave, strong, struggling book, honest in letting us see an unflattering image of the critic. She combines what is seldom seen together: a feminist critique of the family as "haven in a heartless world" with a loving daughter's sensitivity to her Holocaust survivor parents' need to conserve a family threatened with radical loss.--Jane Gallop "Visual Resources " Marianne Hirsch's "Family Frames" offer[s] complex and useful new ways to understand our desire for and mediation of memory and history.--Martin Sturken "Afterimage " [Hirsch] contemplates the relationships among images, family life, memory, lost memory and memory across generations--or "postmemory" as she calls it. For her, photographs and other images are talismans, clues and building blocks of meaning. There are no innocent snapshots for her; all recording is action fraught with political and social implication.--Pat Aufderheide "Women's Review of Books "

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