Un passé qui ne passe pas. The Ethics and Aesthetics of Contemporary French Holocaust Literature

  • Duffy, Helena (PI)

Project: Research

Project Details


This EU–funded project is concerned with the potentially controversial interplay between postmodern narrative strategies and representations of the Jewish genocide in recent French fiction. As part of the proposed research a selection of novels written during the last two decades by authors such as Patrick Modiano, Pierre Assouline, Jonathan Littell, Philippe Claudel, Yannick Haenel or Laurent Binet is being examined through theories of postmodernism. The project’s methodology consists in applying Anglo-American principles of postmodernism to French literature, which has been deemed largely immune to the influence of an alien and negatively connoted aesthetics. The project’s key objectives are to:
1) offer a comprehensive approach to contemporary French Holocaust fiction
2) observe parallels between recent French- and English-language Holocaust novels and hence argue for the presence of French literary postmodernism
3) explore the potential tension between the analysed works’ thematics and aesthetics, and
4) examine the epistemological and ethical implications of the corpus for (French) World War II memory.
The project, which has been planned for 24 months, is being carried out in collaboration with Prof. Robert Eaglestone (English) and with the support of the Holocaust Research Centre. The research results will be disseminated as both academic publications (a monograph, academic journal articles, conference papers) and outreach activities (school visits, public lectures, mainstream publications).
Effective start/end date1/08/161/08/18


  • Holocaust
  • Postmodernism
  • French Literature
  • Ethics
  • Historiographic Metafiction
  • Third Generation