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Reconfiguring Absence: Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum in Berlin and the Rhetorical Negotiation of Cultural Display

Saindon, Brent (2015) Reconfiguring Absence: Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum in Berlin and the Rhetorical Negotiation of Cultural Display. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This study traces the development of the Jewish Museum Berlin from its inception as the winning entry in a competition for an extension to the Berlin Museum in the summer of 1989 to 2005. Tracking Daniel Libeskind’s design inspirations, public arguments over continuation of the building and its eventual use, I argue that a consistent argumentative trope, characterized by Ernst Bloch’s concept of anticipatory illumination, shows up in these various conversations and influences the building’s eventual use as the Jewish Museum Berlin. The rhetoric of anticipatory illumination, in this case, shifts over time, first emphasizing Jewish cultural absence in Berlin and the need to make that absence visible, but later pushing cultural absence to the background in favor of expressing the need for multicultural tolerance in Germany and beyond. The resulting museum, the Jewish Museum Berlin, combined the specificity of the history of the former in its curatorial design with injunctions for wider concern about intolerance in contemporary societies around the world. The author argues that the shift produces a “doubled heterotopia” in the arrangement of the museum that ultimately is effective for addressing the diverse audiences for the Jewish Museum Berlin. The case study emphasizes that public art and architecture projects can be rich sites of rhetorical invention worthy of close study over the time of their development.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Saindon, Brentbas74@pitt.eduBAS74
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairOlson, Lesterolson@pitt.eduOLSON
Committee MemberHalle, Randallrhalle@pitt.eduRHALLE
Committee MemberMalin, Brentonbmalin@pitt,edu
Committee MemberSmith, Terrytes2@pitt.eduTES2
Committee MemberZboray, Ronaldzboray@pitt.eduZBORAY
Date: 23 June 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 6 April 2015
Approval Date: 23 June 2015
Submission Date: 17 April 2015
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 333
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Communication: Rhetoric and Communication
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: controversy studies, anticipatory illumination, visual culture, communication
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2015 12:24
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2020 05:15


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