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Matthew Walker

Research student

Matthew Walker

Lancaster University

Bowland College

LA1 4YT

Lancaster

Research overview

Within the popular imagination, Auschwitz has become widely recognised as the unparalleled symbol of the absolute horror of the Holocaust. My research focuses on the specific role of objects as a medium of transmitting the horror and trauma of the Holocaust. By applying the linguistic theories of metonymy, I investigate how specific objects within Auschwitz have come to embody the whole of the experience itself. I analyse this through two distinct case studies: architecture and personal objects. Firstly, the staining image of the railway leading to the architecture of Auschwitz has become synecdochally representative of not only the traumatic journey into the camp but also the relationship between the Holocaust and modernity. Secondly, the photographs taken of the piles of personal belongings from glasses to shoes become everyday access points to the past that stand-in for the trauma experienced by the individual in Auschwitz. Historians such as Marianne Hirsch, Dan Stone and Andrea Liss have recognised how these objects have become tropes of Holocaust trauma, encompassing a symbolic framework for how we remember Auschwitz.

Research Interests

Holocaut Studies 

Trauma Theory 

Psychoanalysis

Research Grants

AHRC

Thesis Title

Objects of Trauma: Auschwitz Representation and the Role of Metonymy

Contact me

m.walker2@lancaster.ac.uk

Supervised By

Mercedes Camino