Religious Studies | Pilosophy & Religious Thought After the Holocaust
R345 | 3876 | Morgan
In this class, we shall examine various responses to the Nazi
atrocities and the death camps. At first, in the postwar period, a
small number of philosophers, literary figures, and political thinkers
tried to understand these events in terms of traditional categories.
We shall look at works by Primo Levi, Jean Amery, Jean Paul Sartre,
and Hannah Arendt and consider the nature of Nazi antisemitism, the
evil of the criminals and the crimes, and the way in which the death
camp experience challenged conceptions of human dignity, solidarity,
In the sixties, there emerged a tradition of theological discussion
about God, evil, religious institutions and practices, and the Nazi
atrocities. We shall examine this tradition in detail and its major
figures, Jewish and Christian, including Richard Rubenstein, Emil
Fackenheim, Eliezer Berkovits, Irving Greenberg, and Roy Eckardt.
This tradition of religious discussion flourished in the seventies and
involved attempts to understand what Judaism and Christianity in a
post-Holocaust world would be like. Of special interest was the
relationship between the Holocaust and the reestablishment and defense
of the state of Israel. In addition to considering examples of this
development and some criticisms of it, we shall discuss the ways in
which the Holocaust interacted with contemporary culture and the
problems raised about it, about our capacity to grasp and deal with
it, and more. We shall consider the impact of the Holocaust on
political culture in America, Germany, and Israel; the attempts to
portray the Holocaust in film and general questions about
representation and memory; and the political and cultural
controversies about historiography and the Holocaust. Our discussion
will take us to current debates on these issues.
The course satisfies the COAS Intensive Writing requirement; there
will be four written assignments during the semester and a final term
essay. There will be no examinations. Readings will come from
various books and a course reader. This course requires no specific
background in Philosophy, Jewish Studies, or religious thought.
Students should be prepared for careful reading of a variety of types
of material and written work throughout the semester. Discussion in
class will focus on the readings. In addition, there will be films
shown on a few occasions outside of class at times to be arranged.