Life Writing: The Holocaust

This writing-intensive course introduces
you to the genre of life writing and specifically to memoirs, diaries, film,
and autobiographies on the Holocaust. You’ll explore the difficult options
authors face as witnesses, as survivors, and as children of survivors with
different points of view and historical knowledge. Holocaust literature has
been at the center of discussions on the limits of memory and the ethics of
representing and interpreting trauma. You’ll learn how the genocides of World
War II–the systematic murder of Jews, Slavs, black Germans, Roma (Gypsies),
homosexuals, disabled people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and political opponents of
the Nazis–has influenced our understanding of contemporary genocide campaigns.
You’ll come to recognize the high stakes involved in writing, reading, and
critically thinking about what we define as Holocaust life writing.

Required Texts (at Revolution Book Store):

It is your responsibility 1) to bring texts to class when they are being discussed and 2) to acquire the books
at the start of the course.

  • Beer, Edith B. (with S. Dworkin). THE NAZI OFFICER’S WIFE: HOW ONE JEWISH WOMAN SURVIVED THE HOLOCAUST. Harper Perennial, 2000.  Paperback. (Genre: Memoir, Biographical Film)
  • Levi, Primo. SURVIVAL IN AUSHWITZ. Touchstone, 1996. (Philosophical Memoir)
  • Spiegelman, Art. MAUS I: MY FATHER BLEEDS HISTORY. Pantheon, 1986.  (Comic-Graphic Fable)
  • Weisel, ElieNIGHT. Hill and Wang. Rev. ed. 2006. (Child Survivor Memoir)
  • Frank, Anne. THE DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL: THE DEFINITIVE EDITION. Eds. Otto Frank and Myriam Pressler.  Bantam 1997. (Diary)

Throughout semester:  Website of the “Holocaust Encyclopedia” at the US Holocaust
Memorial Museum ( and the World Is Witness, a geoblog from the
Museum on contemporary genocide and related crimes against humanity.