Dr Matthew Boswell

Dr Matthew Boswell

Associate Professor of Contemporary Literature and Culture

+44(0) 113 343 2025

Summary: Holocaust memory; Holocaust literature and film; the 1994 Rwandan genocide; testimony; culture and atrocity; literature and transgression; global memory culture; digital culture.

Teaching Commitments: Contemporary Literature; Modern Literature; Representing the Holocaust: Transgression and the Taboo.

My research focuses on the cultural memory of the Holocaust and other atrocities. I held an AHRC Leadership Fellowship for a project entitled Virtual Holocaust Memory, which considers the changing shape of Holocaust memory in the digital age, and I currently hold an AHRC/ESRC award for a follow-on project entitled Virtual Holocaust Memoryscapes.  

In my monograph Holocaust Impiety in Literature, Popular Music and Film (2012) I discuss provocative responses to the Holocaust by non-victims, arguing that while such works are often shocking, the value of shock should not be lightly dismissed. Drawing on the philosopher Gillian Rose's criticisms of what she terms 'Holocaust piety' and its claim that the only possible response to the Holocaust is a respectful silence, the book considers how irreverent works of fiction play an important role in shaping our contemporary understanding of the Holocaust and also ourselves.

Other research interests include the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the globalisation of Holocaust memory, and intersections between the memories of traumatic histories. I am part of the Transnational Holocaust Memory research cluster, which leads an ongoing collaboration with the South African Holocaust and Genocide Foundation. This collaboration has led to a range of research projects and public engagement activities, including Mobilising Multidirectional Memory to Build More Resilient Communities in South Africa and a major public event programme at the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre entitled Remembering Holocaust and Genocide in the Digital Age

I collaborate with a wide range of arts and heritage organisations in my work, from Holocaust museums to Opera North. I am a member of the Academic Advisory Board for the National Holocaust Centre and Museum and I have led a number of training events for the Holocaust Educational Trust. I frequently write essays and reviews for non-academic publications, including, most recently, the Los Angeles Review of Books3:AM Magazine and Coney's Loft. I have given interviews about the memory of traumatic histories for Serbian television and radio stations in South Africa and Hong Kong. I am a member of the Critical Life research group, which explores the contemporary relevance of critical and cultural theory, and I am currently producing a documentary about artistic responses to the 2010 Haitian earthquake

I supervise PhD students working on Holocaust memory in the digital age; Holocaust poetry; and the representation of the Holocaust in graphic novels. I am a member of a WRoCAH postgraduate network, The Future of Holocaust Memory, and I am always happy to discuss new PhD proposals that connect to my research interests. 

Follow me on Twitter: @DrMattBoswell

Publications

Monograph

Refereed journal articles

Book chapters

Bibliography

  • 'Holocaust Literature' in Oxford Bibliographies in Literary and Critical Theory, ed. Eugene O’Brien (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017). 

Projects

Conferences and invited papers

I have organised a number of major international conferences and events including:

Keynote and invited papers include:

  • 'Reading Genocide Memorial Sites in Rwanda: Eurocentrism, Sensory Secondary Witnessing and Shame' (Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory/ Centre for Cultural Decontamination, Belgrade, December 2017).
  • 'Virtual Holocaust Perpetrators' (University of East Anglia, July 2017). 
  • 'European Holocaust Memory and the Postcolonial Turn' (Manchester Metropolitan University, May 2017).  
  • 'Holocaust Testimony in the Digital Age' (Lessons and Legacies plenary panel, Claremont College, USA, November 2016; and King's College, London, December 2016). 
  • 'Transnationalism, Cosmopolitanism and the Future of Holocaust Memory' (University of Copenhagen, May 2015).
  • 'Evaluating Impact in the Arts and Humanities' (University of Hong Kong, April 2015).
  • 'Holocaust Literature and the Taboo' (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, April 2014; University of Hong Kong, April 2014; University of Cambridge, February 2014).
  • 'Holocaust Impiety in Punk and Post-Punk Music' (Imperial War Museum, March 2009).

Conference papers include: 

  • 'Virtual Holocaust Perpetrators' (American Comparative Literature Association, Utrecht University, July 2017) 
  • '"Machete words, club words": Literary and Theoretical Responses to Rwandan Genocide Memorials, and the Limits of Holocentrism’ (Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre, September 2016). 
  • 'Downfall: The Nazi Genocide as a Natural Disaster' (European Society for the Study of English (ESSE 11), Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey, September 2012).
  • 'Hybrid Testimony' (The Future of Testimony, University of Salford, United Kingdom, August 2011).
  • 'Holocaust Impiety' (Northeast Modern Language Association Convention 2011, New Jersey, United States, April 2011).
  • 'Awful Little Allegories: Holocaust Impiety and Non-victim Fiction' (Why Allegory Now?, University of Manchester, United Kingdom, April 2011).
  • 'Beyond Holocaust Representation: Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds' (Representing Perpetrators, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom, September 2010).
  • 'Holocaust Impiety in Tim Blake Nelson's The Grey Zone' (European Society for the Study of English (ESSE 10), University of Turin, Italy, August 2010).
  • 'Holocaust Impiety in British Punk and Post-Punk Music' (European Society for the Study of English (ESSE 9), University of Aarhus, Denmark, August 2008). 
  • 'The Black Book: John Berryman's Holocaust Requiem' (The Future of Memory, University of Manchester, United Kingdom, November 2005).