John Schilb

10:10a-11:00a MWF (20 students) 3 cr., A&H.

TOPIC: “Representations of the Holocaust”

This course will focus on how Jewish writers have represented the Holocaust, including authors who actually endured it and are providing eyewitness testimonies. For the most part, we will read prose works, chiefly memoirs and fictional texts. Among the issues we will consider are these: How can writers best represent a disaster that many people consider unrepresentable in the first place? How does the author’s individual viewpoint matter in an account of the Holocaust? What different versions can such an account go through, and to what different effects? To grapple with these questions, we will put writers in “dialogue” with one another. For example, we will pair Elie Wiesel’s well-known memoir Night with Ruth Kluger’s Still Alive, an autobiography that diverges from Wiesel’s by recalling the Holocaust from a woman’s point of view. We will juxtapose Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz with Paul Steinberg’s Speak You Also, a book by a camp prisoner whom Levi criticizes. We will consider Wladyslaw Szpilman’s memoir The Pianist together with Louis Begley’s novel Wartime Lies and Ida Fink’s short story collection A Scrap of Time, analyzing how these three works depict the plight of Jews hiding out in wartime Poland. We will also compare the film adaptations of The Pianist and Schindler’s List. For the most part, the class format will be discussion. Required writing will include two 5-page papers, several 2-page microthemes, and a final exam.