The psychoanalytic trope of "unsettlement" in American postmodern documentary poetry typically aims to narrate the emotional intractability of historical records into an impasse: a position of emotional unintelligibility designed to interrupt a reader's conventional modes of empathic identification with trauma. However, the affective dimension of this impasse—and its capacity to reconfigure the emotional negotiations required for empathic response—remains largely under-examined. This essay theorizes that impasse by arguing that Charles Reznikoff's documentary poem Holocaust rewrites it as an affective surface on which emotional contracts are unsettled by a textual materiality inflected by affect's somatic "touch."

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