Dan Bar On’s dictum concerning “the double wall of silence” will be my starting point for an inquiry into the interaction of psychological, social and political silences. The main focus of my paper will be on the theme of silence in the discourse of African-American writers in the second half of the 20th century. This discourse addresses the claims of black historical memory in a white culture of amnesia.
Aleida Assmann studied English and Egyptology at the universities of Heidelberg and Tübingen and obtained her PhD in both disciplines in 1977. In 1993, Assmann became a professor of English and general literature studies at the University of Konstanz. She has travelled abroad frequently for guest professorships, for example at Rice University, Princeton, Yale, and the University of Chicago in the United States, and the University of Vienna in Austria.
Assmann has published hundreds of essays, books, and collections of articles on English literature, cultural memory, and remembrance. She is a member of the Academies of Science in Berlin-Brandenburg, Göttingen, and Austria, and has received an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Theology at the University of Oslo in 2008. In 2009, the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation and the Max Planck Society presented Assmann with a Max Planck Research Award. In 2011, she received the Ernst Robert Curtius Prize for essay writing from the Universitätsgesellschaft Bonn. She is a member of the Einstein Forum’s Advisory Board.