International conference: Writing the Holocaust and World War II Today: On Jonathan Littell's Les Bienveillantes

full name / name of organization: 
Liran Razinksy (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Aurélie Barjonet (UVSQ)

June 21-23, 2009, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
International Conference: "Writing the Holocaust and World War II Today: On Jonathan Littell's Les Bienveillantes"

Program, poster, abstracts, available here:

This international conference is devoted to Jonathan Littell's recent novel, Les Bienveillantes (The Kindly Ones) (2006), and its implications for the representation of the Holocaust. The lectures will explore the novel's literary, historical and cultural dimensions. The questions Les Bienveillantes raises extend far beyond the novel itself, and accordingly the conference will explores issues of a more general validity, such as that between the specificity of the Holocaust and universality of war and murder, or that between artistic license and the concern with historical reality. What are the potentialities of literature in terms of understanding atrocities, extreme human behaviour, and even ideology?

Free entrance

Organization : Cyril Aslanov and Liran Razinsky (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Aurélie Barjonet (Université de Versailles St-Quentin, Centre d'Histoire culturelle des Sociétés contemporaines - CHCSC)


Sunday June 21

17:00-18:00: Welcome and Registration

18:00-18:15: Greetings

18:15-19:15: Keynote Lecture
Susan R. Suleiman (Harvard University, USA)
Performing the Perpetrator as Witness: Another Look at Les Bienveillantes

19:15-19:45: Respondent
Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi (Hebrew University, Israel)

20:00-21:00: Welcome Reception

Monday June 22

Session 1 (9:30-10:30): Le personnage du bourreau
Moderator: Cyril Aslanov
– Catherine Coquio (Université de Poitiers, France): 'Frères humains', 'Mesdames et Messieurs': J. Littell, I. Kertész. À qui s'adresse le bourreau?
– Aurélie Barjonet (Université Versailles St-Quentin, France): Manufacturer ses souvenirs

Coffee Break: 10:30-11:00

Session 2 (11:00-12:30): Mythe, famille, fantasmes
Moderator: Aurélie Barjonet
– Georges Nivat (Université de Genève, Switzerland): L'inceste adelphique dans Les Bienveillantes
– Wladimir Troubetzkoy (Université Versailles St-Quentin, France): "Frères humains,...", Les Bienveillantes, une histoire de familles
– Marcus Coelen (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany): Phantasm, Fact, Fiction. Categories for the Eumenides?

Lunch: 12:30-14:00

Session 3 (14:00-16:00): Historical Perspectives on Les Bienveillantes
Moderator: Liran Razinsky
– Jeremy Popkin (University of Kentucky, USA): Historians, the Historical Novel, and the Representation of the Holocaust: the Case of Les Bienveillantes
– Thomas Kühne (Strassler Family Professor in the Study of Holocaust History, Clark University, USA): Sadists, Antisemites, or Comrades? Jonathan Littell's Les Bienveillantes and the Holocaust Perpetrator Research
– Hans-Joachim Hahn (Institut Simon Dubnow für jüdische Geschichte und Kultur, Universität Leipzig, Germany): Literature and Art as Paradigms of 1970's German NS Reflections – Fest, Syberberg, Theweleit
– Sandra Janssen (Freie Universität Berlin, Germany): The Totalitarian Subject and the Camps: A Reading of Les Bienveillantes Through Arendt and Bettelheim

Coffee Break: 16:00-16:30

Moderator: Liran Razinsky
16:30-17:30: Nir Ratzkovsky (Translator, Israel): Max Aue speaks Hebrew. A Translation Journal of Les Bienveillantes

Dinner: 19:30

Tuesday June 23

Session 4 (10:00-11:00): Intertexts I
Moderator: Susan R. Suleiman
– Marc Dambre (Université de Paris III – Sorbonne nouvelle, France): Mémoire des textes français et représentation : l'implicite et l'explicite
– Anna-Lisa Dieter (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany): Why Lace? Textile Metaphors and the Thread of Stendhal in Les Bienveillantes

Coffee Break: 11:00-11:30

Session 5 (11:30-12:30): Intertexts II
Moderator: Susan R. Suleiman
– Manuela Consonni (Hebrew University, Israel): Between Acide sulfurique and Les Bienveillantes: A Reading Into Memory
– Leona Toker (Hebrew University, Israel): Les Bienveillantes and the 'Scorched-Earth' Principle

Lunch: 12:30-14:00

Session 6 (14:00-15:30): The Provocation of Les Bienveillantes
Moderator: Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi
– Peter Kuon (Universität Salzburg, Austria): From 'Kitsch' to 'Splatter': The Aesthetics of Violence in Jonathan Littell's Les Bienveillantes
– Leland de la Durantaye (Harvard University, USA): Not a Novel or Not About Auschwitz. On Jonathan Littell's Les Bienveillantes
– Liran Razinsky (Hebrew University, Israel): The Symmetry of All Perpetrators: The Provocation of Les Bienveillantes

Coffee Break: 15:30-16:00

Session 7 (16:00-17:30): Questions of Reception
Moderator: Peter Kuon
– Cyril Aslanov (Hebrew University, Israel): Visibility and Iconicity of the German Language in Les Bienveillantes
– Wolfgang Asholt (Universität Osnabrück, Germany): Une lecture allemande des lectures allemandes des Bienveillantes
– Helena Duffy (University of Wrocław, Poland): La bienveillance de la critique polonaise. An Analysis of the Polish Reception of Jonathan Littell's Les Bienveillantes

Concluding Panel (17:30-18:00)
Writing the Holocaust and World War II Today. Limits and Possibilities (Cyril Aslanov, Aurélie Barjonet, Liran Razinsky)

32989[Update] Death Penalty in US American Literature and CultureKaty Ryan, Associate Professor, West Virginia Universitykohearnr@mail.wvu.edu1242602637african-americancultural_studies_and_historical_approachesgender_studies_and_sexualitytwentieth_century_and_beyondfull name / name of organization: Katy Ryan, Associate Professor, West Virginia Universitycontact email:

May 2009--Second Call
Missing from the vibrant interdisciplinary field of prison studies is a collection of essays focused on the death penalty in US American literature and art. I invite scholarly and creative essays for an edited book collection, which will explore the death penalty in American literature, art, music, and performance. The collection will feature writing that builds on recent scholarship in prison studies in order to comprehend the appeal, administration, and atrocity of the death penalty. Contributors might be in conversation with studies that examine the impacts of racism and poverty in the criminal justice system (such as, Angela Davis's Are Prisons Obsolete?, Marc Mauer's Race to Incarcerate, David Oshinksy's "Worse than Slavery"); feature the writing of imprisoned men and women (Bruce Franklin's Prison Writing in 20th-Century America, Bell Gale Chevigny's Doing Time, Joy James's The New Abolitionists and Imprisoned Intellectuals); or investigate the literature of incarceration and execution (Franklin's The Victim as Criminal and Artist, Quentin Miller's Prose and Cons, and Kristin Boudreau's The Spectacle of Death).

Among the questions that might be addressed are the following: What is the literary history of the death penalty in the United States? In what contexts and to what purposes have writers and artists approached the penalty of death (e.g., abolitionist, retentionist, revolutionary, proletarian, sensationalist, documentary)? What have been the political, social, and educational impacts of these works? What roles have sentiment and political advocacy played? How relevant is Michel Foucault's Discipline and Punish to understanding the US American capital system, keeping in mind objections raised by Joy James, C. Fred Alford, and others? Finally, how might we respond to Dwight Conquergood's suggestion that the "death penalty cannot be understood simply as a matter of public policy debate or an aspect of criminology, apart from what it pre-eminently is: performance"?

Please send submissions along with a CV to Katy Ryan ASAP (

cfp categories: african-americancultural_studies_and_historical_approachesgender_studies_and_sexualitytwentieth_century_and_beyond