Call for Papers: International & Interdisciplinary Colloquium

Daniel Mendelsohn’s The Lost in Contemporary Creation

Deadline for title and abstract submissions: October 1, 2022

American writter Daniel Mendelsohn has known a great public and critical success when The Lost was published in the USA in 2006, and in France the following year.

The investigation on six murdered members of his family during the Shoah deeply renews the writings of history and family memory. The author has found a form to solving many difficulties of the representation of historical tragedies, which explains an “epic of absence”, the paradoxical even oxymoric formula of the writer and essayist Camille de Toledo about The Lost.

In this interdisciplinary colloquium, we’ll invite you to explore the dialogue between contemporary artists and Mendelsohn’s text. Studying the explicit and implicit influence of The Lost on the writings, speeches and the forms is the question. Both in literature — investigations stories, documented fictions, non-fictions… — and in the large space of the arts, without any thematic, geographical or generic limit.

In short, the question is not only comparing The Lost with others works but also highlighting the borrowings and references, conscious or not, real or potential, to Daniel Mendelsohn’s work.

The first challenge is to highlight the innovative and inspiring characteristics as:

  • a specific north American look at the Holocaust and the Jewishness, associated with a great Francophilia;
  • the intersection of the History and the family story, of the fresco and the detail, of the big biblical story and the little story of humans;
  • the circular structure, self-reflexivity, apparent non-fiction;
  • the author’s ability to animate a still « communicative » (Jan Assmann) but overexploited memory.

The second issue is to examine how — in the “age of scruples” (D. Viart) — the non-witnesses, and in particular the members of the “hinge generation” which is Mendelsohn’s, can seize in a same way artistic and ethical of a historical event. In the Lost, the ultimate aim is neither to repair the past nor to become a “witness of the witness”  but it’s investigate as a philologist, anxious to avoid the pitfalls of fiction, anachronism and kitsch. The result is a text marked by a strong, respectful, but also living, current relationship with the past, which beware of the current culture of memory,

Timeline and Procedure

150-word abstract in French or English and a title accompanied by a brief bio-bibliographic notice should be sent to before October 1, 2022.

The international symposium will take place on 15-16th June in la Maison internationale de la recherche (1 rue Descartes, 95000 Neuville-sur-Oise) and plans to invite several artists inspired by The Lost.

Futher information and bibliography are available in the pdf below: