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Caryl Churchill’s Seven Jewish Children and the Legacy of the Holocaust

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2017, 30(2), pp.69-93
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

kim Yeung Ah 1

1한성대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The paper aims to read Caryl Churchill’s Seven Jewish Children(2009) as considerate intervention into a long running debate on the memorialisation and legacy of the Holocaust. Though the play was born of direct moral outrage about ‘Operation Cast Lead’, the three-week Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip in 2008, and the ensuing humanitarian crisis, it deals not just current crisis but the troubled Modern Jewish history and its thorny issues. The play consists of seven short scenes, which are set at a different period of modern Jewish and Israeli history, and the Holocaust in 1930-40s and Gaza in 2008 are the starting point and ending point of the historical trajectory the play traces. Not surprisingly, the play has unleashed heated responses and debates that’re unprecedented even for her, not only because of its provocative content and but also because of its unorthodox form. While some accused it as a piece of anti-Semitic propaganda, others welcomed it as an example to show theatre’s power to heighten consciousness and articulate moral outrage. What opponents specifically object to is the linkage Churchill establishes between the Holocaust and Gaza, which is denounced as ‘a new and sophisticated form Holocaust denial.’ The play, however, invokes connection between two tragic histories to suggest a psychological link between the trauma of the Jews during the Holocaust and Israeli aggression against the Palestinians in the present, not to equate events in Gaza with Nazi atrocities. Thus, rather than denying the suffering of the Jews, the play advocates ‘a radically democratic politics of memory’ which makes the Holocaust as a universal memory that helps alleviate oppression in the present.

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