So I’m giving a paper on Rowling’s use of Nazi/Holocaust imagery at the ‘Concentrationary Imaginaries’ conference in Leeds in a couple of weeks, and I have to write it today.
I have been kind of terrified about it, partly because, oh, I would have liked to do so much more research in about three separate and quite weighty areas (theories of representation, myth, and the Holocaust; fan responses to the Nazi imagery in HP; and the history/afterlife/dissemination of the specific myths with which JKR engages in the books, specifically Hitler’s ‘Jewish ancestry’ and Nazism-as-bureaucracy). But today I am very cheered by finding this as one of the three aims of the Concentrationary Memories project:
Identification of a hitherto unacknowledged cinematic and popular archive that indirectly registers a ‘Holocaust effect’ (Van Alphen) which we define as a ‘concentrationary imaginary’. This appropriates, without direct historical reference, the core aspects of totalitarianism’s novelty and terror as a narrative premise. We analyse the concentrationary imaginary by tracking the seepage and normalisation of totalitarianism in diverse forms of post-modern popular culture that invert the political-aesthetic use of the relations of horror and the everyday (Resnais/Cayrol) to insert horrific violence into the everyday.
because that’s exactly what I think the Harry Potter books are doing: appropriating, without direct historical reference, the core aspects of totalitarianism’s novelty and terror (though less as a narrative premise than as a tonal effect). So at least I’m on target for what the conference is trying to do.
ETA1: Trying to find the photo the Daily Mail published in 1933 of a Jewish tombstone with the name ‘Adolf Hittler’ on it. Learning that you don’t want to Google-image ‘adolf hitler jewish cemetery tombstone’, because it will make you sad.
ETA2: Why is there no paper at this conference called We Don’t Need This Fascist Groove Thing? A missed opportunity.