Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History is a book for anyone interested in the relationship between trauma and pedagogy. Shoshana Feldman and Dori Laub explore, from both clinical and literary perspectives, how the process of testimony — bearing witness to a crisis or a trauma — can be used in the classroom; in other words, how testimony can teach us.
Using art, literature, videos, and autobiographical accounts of Holocaust and war survivors, Testimony offers both pedagogical and clinical lessons on listening to human suffering and traumatic narratives. Feldman and Laub successfully make the links that exist between the act of witnessing and testifying, narrative and history, art and memory, writing and reading, and speech and survival. In doing so, they shed light on the possibilities for liberation from traumatic human experience, as well as the need to keep such memories alive so that we as a society can learn from them.
In a country like the United States, where we make a practice out of strategically erasing memories that lay bare the harsh realities of the ideology that drives our history of violence and domination, and in classrooms where we generally ignore the voices and experiences of students — a great many of whom have witnessed the brutality of the streets, poverty, racism, and discrimination — the lessons of this book are a must.