Poetics of memory: In defence of literary experimentation with holocaust survivor testimony

Frances Rapport*, Graham Hartill

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This article defends literary experimentation through poetics, suggesting it is both valid and powerful for re-presenting social data. The article concentrates on methodological debates surrounding the use of poetics in social science studies, contextualizing the theoretical with exemplars taken from a study of Holocaust survivors' life stories that aimed to clarify whether notions of health and well-being were in evidence in survivor testimony. In so doing, the article raises an interesting question: "What happens when a poet and a qualitative health researcher work on the same sections of transcribed text?" The article argues for the value of poetics as a working method with oral histories of this kind, suggesting its major strength is to uphold processes of personal transformation via layers of differently mediated dialogue: between participant and researcher, researcher and reader, and the like. The article concludes with a discussion of how poetics might be useful to support others' research studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-37
Number of pages18
JournalAnthropology and Humanism
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes


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