Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism : Birkbeck University of London
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Writing Auschwitz: Testimony, Representation and Prose in the Work of Charlotte Delbo, Primo Levi and Holocaust Writers

Monday 18 March 2013, French Cultural Institute, London

Call for Papers - deadline 10 January 2013


The interest in the call for papers for our conference on Charlotte Delbo and her writings has been such that we have decided to broaden the scope of the conference. With this in mind, and to maximise opportunities for people to participate, the call for papers has been revised - see below - and the deadline for proposals extended to 10 January 2013.

‘This is how it all happened and never do I invent.’ Charlotte Delbo (1913-1985) used this quote from Jean Giraudoux’s Electre as an epigraph to her book Le Convoi du 24 janvier, where she presents short biographies of the 230 women deported with her to Auschwitz-Birkenau. It conveys two messages. First, that Delbo’s writings represent her testimony given in all truthfulness; and second, that her testimony is mediated through literature, as shown by her use of a theatrical character.

This conference, organized in the centenary of Charlotte Delbo’s birth, aims to highlight the contribution that Delbo and other survivors, including Primo Levi, Jorge Semprun and Jean Amery made to Holocaust testimonial writing. What is the importance of gender in Holocaust testimony? How have French women and French resisters contributed to Holocaust writing and representation? What is the legacy of the writings of Levi, Semprun, Amery and others? And are poetry, fiction and theatre more effective than memoirs as prisms of transmission and understanding of the Nazi camp experience?

The conference will conclude with a performance of extracts from Delbo’s prose by the theatre group, Nomad.

Proposals for papers of 20 minutes are welcome on the following themes, but are not restricted to them:

• The role of literature in re-presenting (making present) the Nazi camp experience
• Testimony through theatre
• The relationship between literature and history in testimonial writings
• The impact of survivors’ writings (Delbo, Levi, Semprun, Amery and others)
• The prose and writings of Charlotte Delbo

Proposals of 250 words accompanied by a short CV, institutional affiliation (where relevant) and contact details, should be e-mailed to: by 10 January 2013. Authors will be notified shortly after this date.

The conference is organized by the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London and Group for War and Culture Studies, University of Westminster, with the support of the French Cultural Institute.


Dr Ludivine Broch, Pears Institute Early Career Research Fellow, Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London
Dr Luke Dixon, Theatre Director, Nomad
Professor David Feldman, Director, Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London
Dr Nicole Thatcher, Visiting Research Fellow, Group for War and Culture Studies, University of Westminster