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Family Frames: Photography, Narrative, and Postmemory Hardcover – November 15, 1997

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Editorial Reviews


[Hirsch] contemplates the relationships among images, family life, memory, lost memory and memory across generations--or "postmemory" as she calls it. For her, photographs and other images are talismans, clues and building blocks of meaning. There are no innocent snapshots for her; all recording is action fraught with political and social implication. (Pat Aufderheide Women's Review of Books)

Marianne Hirsch's Family Frames offer[s] complex and useful new ways to understand our desire for and mediation of memory and history. (Martin Sturken Afterimage)

Marianne Hirsch's new book, Family Frames, looks at family photographs in literature and culture. Although its critical gaze ranges quite broadly--touching upon most of the writers, photographers, and critics who have been centrally concerned with family photography--the book begins and ends by considering family photos in relation to the Holocaust. This nonstandard frame for the subject puts both photography and the family into bold, new relief...This is not a cool, calm book, perfectly synthesizing nostalgia and critique. This is a brave, strong, struggling book, honest in letting us see an unflattering image of the critic. She combines what is seldom seen together: a feminist critique of the family as "haven in a heartless world" with a loving daughter's sensitivity to her Holocaust survivor parents' need to conserve a family threatened with radical loss. (Jane Gallop Visual Resources)


Intelligently conceived...A moving book. And it tells us something important about how we come to understand the story of our lives through the pages of the family photo album. (Nancy K. Miller, Lehman College, CUNY)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (November 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674292650
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674292659
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,037,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

MARIANNE HIRSCH was born in Romania and immigrated to the United States with her parents in 1962. She went to high school in Providence, Rhode Island, and studied Comparative Literature at Brown University where she received her B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. She taught at Dartmouth College for thirty years, and is currently William Peterfied Trent Professor of English and Comparative Literature and of Women and Gender Studies at Columbia University in New York. She is Vice-President of the Modern Language Association of America. She is the winner of numerous fellowships and awards, including the Guggenheim, ACLS, Rockefeller, Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute, AAUW, Wellesley Center for Research on Women. She is the former editor of PMLA, the journal of the Modern Language Association of America. She has written, edited or co-edited fifteen volumes, including a book on mothers and daughters in literature, The Mother/Daughter Plot, several books on photography and memory including Family Frames: Photography, Narrative, and Postmemory and The Familial Gaze, and several books on feminist criticism and theory, including Conflicts in Feminism. For the last two decades, she has been writing about cultural memory, particularly about the inherited memory of the Second World War and the Holocaust. Her latest book Ghosts of Home: The Afterlife of Czernowitz in Jewish Memory, co-authored with her husband Leo Spitzer, is a family/communal memoir about the city in which her parents grew up and survived the Holocaust. Hirsch and Spitzer live in New York city and in Norwich, Vermont. They have been writing collaboratively for the last ten years. Hirsch's The Generation of Postmemory: Writing and Visual Culture After the Holocaust is forthcoming in 2012. Her recent co-edited book with Nancy K. Miller, Rites of Return: Diaspora Poetics and the Politics of Memory features the work of 24 writers, artists and scholars exploring the obsession with origins and "return" in contemporary culture.

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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Elaine Light on August 10, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a worthwhile read that engages the reader thoughtfully about the dual role photographs play in keeping us stable and giving us a sense our families are good and, at the same time, in highlighting for us, via our knowledge of what went on behind the photographs, that we fall short of the ideals depicted in our photos.
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