Honors | Literature of the Holocaust (HON)
H303 | 23665 | Alvin Rosenfeld
REQUIRES STRONG WRITING SKILLS.
Among the most compelling literatures of our day is that which
records and seeks to interpret the Nazi war of genocide against the
Jews. This course will introduce students to this literature and
encourage them to reflect upon many of the profound questions it
raises. Some of these questions will focus on literature's role in
the shaping of historical memory. How the past is represented and
comes to acquire a future in collective memory will be a
preoccupying concern. Other questions will focus on issues of the
most serious intellectual, cultural, moral, ethical, and religious
kind. For instance, if it is true, as Elie Wiesel claims, that at
Auschwitz not only man died but also the idea of man, how do we now
conceive of the human? What does a person become when nothing is any
longer forbidden him? Why did art, intellect, and religion not
defend against political barbarism? Is idealism of any kind still
possible after Auschwitz? Is forgiveness possible? These and related
questions will preoccupy us over the course of the semester.
The list of required readings for this course will include all or
most of the following:
Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl
Chaim A. Kaplan, Scroll of Agony: The Warsaw Diary of Chaim A. Kaplan
Elie Wiesel, Night
Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz
Primo Levi, The Drowned and the Saved
Tadeusz Borowski, This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen
Bernhard Schlink, The Reader
Simon Wiesenthal, The Sunflower
In addition to the above, there will be some mimeographed handouts
of poetry and other material, and at least one film will be shown.
Written work for the course will be discussed in class during the
first week of the semester. Strong writing skills will be an asset
for students in this course. Please see me in advance if you have
any serious reservations about your ability to meet the challenges
of writing longer papers (approximately 10-12 pages each). Given the
nature of the subject matter, this will be a demanding course.
Students are expected to do the assigned readings on time, attend
all class meetings, and participate actively in class discussions of
the literature. Repeated unexcused absences will lower your grade
for the course.