Laura Levitt - "The Objects That Remain" - Bevin Blaber, Tahel Goldsmith, and Leora Auslander

Tuesday, May 4, 2021 - 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Laura Levitt

Laura Levitt will discuss The Objects That Remain with Bevin Blaber and Tahel Goldsmith, moderated by Leora Auslander.

Presented in partnership with The Joyce Z. and Jacob Greenberg Center for Jewish Studies

Virtual event


About the book: On a November evening in 1989, Laura Levitt was raped in her own bed. Her landlord heard the assault taking place and called 911, but the police arrived too late to apprehend Laura’s attacker. When they left, investigators took items with them—a pair of sweatpants, the bedclothes—and a rape exam was performed at the hospital. However, this evidence was never processed. Decades later, Laura returns to these objects, viewing them not as clues that will lead to the identification of her assailant but rather as a means of engaging traumatic legacies writ large. The Objects That Remain is equal parts personal memoir and fascinating examination of the ways in which the material remains of violent crimes inform our experience of, and thinking about, trauma and loss. Considering artifacts in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and evidence in police storage facilities across the country, Laura’s story moves between intimate trauma, the story of an unsolved rape, and genocide. Throughout, she asks what it might mean to do justice to these violent pasts outside the juridical system or through historical empiricism, which are the dominant ways in which we think about evidence from violent crimes and other highly traumatic events. Over the course of her investigation, the author reveals how these objects that remain and the stories that surround them enable forms of intimacy. In this way, she models for us a different kind of reckoning, where justice is an animating process of telling and holding.

About Laura Levitt: Laura Levitt is Professor of Religion, Jewish Studies, and Gender at Temple University. She is the author of American Jewish Loss After the Holocaust and Jews and Feminism: The Ambivalent Search for Home.

About Bevin Blaber: Bevin Blaber is a scholar of philosophy of religions. Her work centers on continental philosophy, ethics, and modern Jewish thought and literature, with particular emphasis on post-Holocaust thought. Her current work centers on the ways that conceptions of guilt and atonement are figured in instances of state or community-perpetrated atrocities and the impact of these definitions on attempts, both legal and extra-juridical, to grapple with legacies of these events.

About Tahel Goldsmith: Tahel Goldsmith is a Ph.D. student in the Department of History.

About Leora Auslander: Leora Auslander is Arthur and Joann Rasmussen Professor in Western Civilization in the College and Professor of European Social History at the University of Chicago. Her work focuses on the intersection of material culture, everyday life, and politics.

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