Jewish Institute in Warsaw.

Portable Tombs of Memory: The Ringelblum Archive as a Collection of Objects is a three-part lecture series by Bożena Shallcross that explores the Ringelblum Archive as a collection of material objects that informs our perception of the bare everyday during the Jewish genocide, the question of the material durability and fragility of objects, and the methods of preserving their materiality.

In the second lecture, Rust and Mold, Shallcross analyzes the (mal)function of the containers she discussed in the first lecture in the series, their material state and the enormous conservation challenges that followed the Ringelblum Archive’s discovery. The restoration of its contents is presented as an ongoing project that defies prevailing narratives of wartime material precarity and total loss.

Buried like coffins, the unassuming metal containers of what is known as the Oneg Shabbat project were filled with veritable treasure: testimonies, diaries, drawings, photographs, tram tickets, and even candy wrappers secretly collected by a group of dedicated individuals in the Warsaw Ghetto. Unearthed after the war, they have been understood as archives of knowledge with a unique significance for the history of the Holocaust, extending the spatial boundaries of the Warsaw Ghetto to the entire occupied Polish territory. The lectures discuss the protective function of the containers, their own vulnerability, as well as their contents, as both ephemeral and textual objects.

Lecture 1 (November 2): The Hidden Treasure
Lecture 3 (November 16): Candy Wrappers

Bard Graduate Center is grateful for the generous support of the Leon Levy Foundation.

Bożena Shallcross
is a Polish-born American scholar specializing in questions of materiality and thing discourse in visual and literary studies, including the Holocaust. She is professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and member of the core faculty in the Institute on the Formation of Knowledge at the University of Chicago, as well as a member of some dozen editorial boards, including those of the Slavic Review and Teksty Drugie (Second Texts). She has authored, edited, and translated numerous critical studies including the monographs The Holocaust Object in Polish and Polish-Jewish Culture (translated into Russian and Polish); Through the Poet’s Eye: The Travels of Zagajewski, Herbert, and Brodsky; Shadow and Form: Visual Imagination of Leopold Staff. Her articles reflect a wide range of interests including literary representations of interior design, poetic encounters with works of art, and contemporary poets’ spatial imagination. She has just completed a study entitled Inscriptions and Other Marks and co-edited an anthology of texts by various authors entitled The Jewish Inn: From Architecture to Phantasm. Currently, she is editing a book entitled Creative Expression and Polish Chicago.

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