Senior Honors / Studies Seminar

Please note that this course satisfies the “1900 to present” historical breadth requirement as well as the “Studies” requirement for English majors and minors. 


Writing and Remembering the Holocaust

While this course satisfies an elective for Honors students, it is open to all students and it serves as a “Studies” course as well as fulfilling the “1900 to present” historical breadth requirement for majors. If you are not an Honors student and would like to register the course, please e-mail Dr. Desser at

How should the Holocaust be remembered? As the generation of survivors continues to age, we will soon face an era in which no living witnesses of the Shoah are left among us. What is the responsibility of second and third generations to this history? To what extent can we rely on oral histories and family memories as the second and third generation writers to piece together narratives of their own? What can emerging popular genres, such as graphic memoirs, contribute to the conversation? In this course, students will read well-known autobiographies of first generation survivors as well as lesser-known work by descendants of Holocaust survivors attempting to contend with their family histories. This course will raise questions about autobiographical writing and inherited trauma, the politics of memory, and the problematics associated with re-discovering and re-presenting human suffering and acts of evil.



Elie Wiesel. Night.

Art Spiegelman. Maus I and II.

Frank, Anne.  The Diary of a Young Girl.

Frankl, Viktor. Man’s Search for Meaning.

and additional secondary materials



Students will write a reading response to each major text. The reading responses will alternatively take the form of rhetorical analysis, literary analysis, or creative nonfiction. In addition, students will read a holocaust memoir of their choosing and write a scholarly analysis of their chosen text that they present to the class. Finally, students will embark on a research and writing project of their own design related to Holocaust studies and nonfiction writing.