The events of the Holocaust changed Western culture in fundamental ways. Not only was a great part of Jewish culture in Europe destroyed, the circumstances of the Nazi genocide as a modern, highly rationalized, efficient form of mass murder which took place in the heart of civilized Europe changed the conception of the progress of modernity and the Enlightenment in fundamental ways. This course explores the historical, political, psychological, theological, and cultural fall-out, as well as literary and cinematic responses in Europe and the U.S. to these events as they first became known, and as one moved further away from it in time and came to understand its pronounced and often problematic after effects. Central to our inquiry is the realization that the events of the Holocaust have left indelible traces in European and U.S. culture and culture production, of which a closer look (first decade by decade, then moving on to a number of themes and questions), reveals profound insights into current day culture, politics, and society.
Levi and Rothberg, The Holocaust: Theoretical Readings; Art Spiegelman, Maus I &II; Ruth Klüger, Still Alive: a Girlhood Remembered; Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz; Elie Wiesel, Night; Additional course packet
Films: Nuit et Brouillard; Holocaust (excerpts); Shoah (excerpts); Schindler's List (excerpt)
Response papers (2) 10%
Class presentation 10%
Presentation paper 15%
Midterm exam 20%
Final research paper 30% (proposal, bibliography, outline + 1st, 5% each, paper: 15%)