Maria’s doctoral research investigated representations of the Holocaust and the Second World War across a range of German- and Austrian-Jewish writers who belong to the second or third generation born after the Holocaust. These writers relate to the events from the position of the “nonwitness” (Weissman 2004), and in the face of major shifts in Holocaust memory since the turn of the millennium, such as the disappearance of the survivor and eyewitness generation and the increasing mediatisation and globalisation of the events. The Holocaust has therefore emerged as a highly discursivised “floating signifier” (Huyssen 2003), which travels transgenerationally, transmedially and transnationally.
Engaging with these shifts, Maria argued that Marianne Hirsch’s concept of “postmemory” (Hirsch 1997) and recent trauma theory need to be readjusted in order to account for the massive changes in Holocaust memory. Drawing on cultural and literary theories and transnational memory studies, she developed a new approach that focuses on the Holocaust as a form of “travelling trauma” (Tomsky 2011), tracing its remediation and recycling across geographical, cultural, medial, and representational boundaries.
Maria is currently turning her PhD into a monograph which is under contract with Camden House.
Her new Leverhulme-project is situated in transnational studies and will examine how contemporary German-language literature intervenes in the heated socio-political debates about integration in the wake of the so-called European "migrant/refugee crisis”. Current discussions oscillate between unreflected multiculturalism on the one hand and aggressive assimilationalism on the other. Analysing figurations of arrival, contact and dis-/integration in recent texts about migration and displacement, Maria’s research investigates how they challenge these discursive patterns. It examines whether and how fiction offers complex models of integration that involve conflicts, frictions and misunderstandings as key aspects of transnational encounter, thus championing innovative mode(l)s of togetherness in the global age.