The visual component of video interviews with survivors of the Holocaust is what distinguishes these from other forms of documenting survivors’ life stories, whether in written form or audio recording. But what is the difference between watching these stories rather than simply reading or listening to them? Jeffrey Shandler, a Jewish studies scholar, will explore the role of these video interviews in the presentation, “Seeing As Believing: Watching Videotaped Interviews with Holocaust Survivors.”
Shandler, professor and chair of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University, will deliver the annual Dr. Maurice Sitomer Lecture on Wednesday, February 18, 5:30pm, in Taylor Hall, room 203. This event is free and open to the public and sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program.
According to Shandler, videos of interviews with survivors have a major impact on an audience. “When survivors display wartime injuries or religious articles that they had during the war, both disrupt the recordings’ austere visual aesthetic of ‘talking heads’ and reveal the power of watching survivors relate their wartime experiences,” says Shandler. “These particular moments also resonate with longstanding visual vocabularies of offering evidence that concretizes faith, linking the act of seeing with believing.”
Shandler received a PhD in Yiddish Studies from Columbia University and has held post-doctoral fellowships at the University of Pennsylvania and New York University. Shandler has also been a visiting scholar at the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Center, Tel Aviv University; the Center for Religion and Media, New York University; the Jewish Studies Program, University of California Berkeley; the Shoah Foundation, University of Southern California; and the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation, Monash University. His books include While America Watches: Televising the Holocaust; Adventures in Yiddishland: Postvernacular Language and Culture, a study of contemporary Yiddish culture; Jews, God, and Videotape: Religion and Media in America, which analyzes the impact of new communications technologies and media practices on American Jews’ religious life, from early recordings of cantorial music to hasidic outreach on the Internet. His work has been translated into French, German, Japanese, and Polish. Shandler has also served as president of the Association for Jewish Studies and is a fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research.
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