Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts


Photography and Film

First Advisor

Justin James Reed

Second Advisor

Sasha Waters Freyer

Third Advisor

Hope Ginsburg

Fourth Advisor

David Weinfeld


Jewish thought suggests that the memory of an action is as primary as the action itself. This is to say that when my hand is wounded, I remember other hands. I trace ache back to other aches - when my mother grabbed my wrist pulling me across the intersection, when my great-grandmother’s fingers went numb on the ship headed towards Cuba fleeing the Nazis, when Miriam’s palms enduringly poured water for the Hebrews throughout their desert journey - this is how the Jew is able to fathom an ache. Because no physical space is a given for the Jewish diaspora, time and the rituals that steep into it are centered as a mode of carrying on. The bloodline of a folktale, an object, a ritual, pulses through interpretation and enactment. In this work I explore notions of Jewish memory, narrative heirlooms, and image making; the works position themselves in the past as memories, in the present as stories being told, and in the future as actions to interpret and repeat. To encounter an image in this way is not only to ask what it feels like, but to ask: what does it remember like?


© Hannah Altman

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission