- Professor of English and Jewish Studies
- 6187A Helen C. White Hall
- E-mail Michael Bernard-Donals
- Rhetoric, critical theory, and post-Holocaust representation
Degrees and Institutions
PhD, English, State University of New York at Stony Brook, 1991
BA, English, University of Notre Dame, 1985
Rhetorical Theory; Critical Theory, History and Memory.
- Mikhail Bakhtin: Between Phenomenology and Marxism (Cambridge, 1994)
- The Practice of Theory (Cambridge, 1998)
- Rhetoric in an Antifoundational World (Yale, 1998)
- Between Witness and Testimony: the Holocaust and the Limits of Representation (SUNY 2001)
- Witnessing the Disaster: Essays on Representation and the Holocaust (Wisconsin 2004)
- An Introduction to Holocaust Studies: History, Memory, and Representation (Prentice Hall 2006)
- Forgetful Memory: Representation and Remembrance after Auschwitz
- essays and reviews on rhetoric, the teaching of writing, critical theory, and the Holocaust in various journals.
My teaching and research have increasingly focused on the relation of memory and ethics: to what extent do events compel us to speak, what is the relation between what we're compelled to say and our obligations to others, and what formal properties of utterance -- testimony, history, poetry -- create what could be called a 'memorial effect' on both speaker and listener? I'm particularly interested in how these questions might be answered in the contemporary context, in which memorial locations seem to exert a kind of memory effect (Auschwitz, ground zero in Manhattan, and other sites of and memorials to atrocity) that both is and is not directly related to the events they presume to 'name.'
Much of the discussion surrounding the Holocaust and how it can be depicted sixty years later has focused on memory. In Forgetful Memory, Michael Bernard-Donals focuses on the relation between memory and forgetfulness, arguing that memory and forgetfulness cannot be separated but must be examined as they complicate our understanding of the Shoah.
This single volume traces three approaches to the study of the Holocaust: through notions of history, theories of memory, and a focus on art and representation. It introduces students to the different ways we have come to understand the Holocaust, gives them an opportunity to ask questions about those conclusions, and examines how this event can be understood once all the survivors are gone.
University of Wisconsin Press
The essayists in this collection aim to move past the notion that the Holocaust as an event defies representation. They look at specific cases of Holocaust representation and consider their effect, their structure, their authenticity, and the kind of knowledge they produce. Taken together they consider the tension between history and memory, the vexed problem of eyewitness testimony and its status as evidence, and the ethical imperatives of Holocaust representation.
SUNY University Press
Between Witness and Testimony investigates the difficulties inherent in the obligation to bear witness to events that seem not just unspeakable but also unthinkable. The authors examine films, fictional narratives, survivor testimonies, and the museums at Yad Vashem and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in order to establish an ethics of Holocaust representation.
Cambridge University Press
In The Practice of Theory, Michael Bernard-Donals examines the connection between theory and pedagogy at the level of practice. He argues that though rhetoric links pedagogy with theory, this tradition must also connect with other human and natural sciences.
Yale University Press
In this brilliant collection, literary scholars, philosophers, and teachers inquire into the connections between antifoundational philosophy and the rhetorical tradition. What happens to literary studies and theory when traditional philosophical foundations are disavowed? What happens to the study of teaching and writing when antifoundationalism is accepted? What strategies for human understanding are possible when the weaknesses of antifoundationalism are identified?
Cambridge University Press
Michael Bernard-Donals examines developments in phenomenological and materialist theory, providing a contextualized study of Bakhtin, a critique of the problems of contemporary criticism, and an original contribution to literary theory.