Elie Wiesel once wrote that only
texts by witnesses or survivors can legitimately describe the Holocaust because
“no one has the right to speak on their behalf.”  This viewpoint, however, has become
controversial as the survivor generation comes to an end and their children
(“Second-Generation”) and grandchildren (“Third-Generation”) write as proxy witnesses.  Along with authorial legitimacy. there are
important questions in recognizing the forms that testimony takes, the impact
of transmission on testimony and, increasingly, methods of distinguishing
fiction from accurate accounts; memoirs from novels; or fraudulent survivor
accounts from purposeful fictive account by
survivors.  So this seminar will help you
understand the basic arguments of Holocaust representation along with
contemporary debates. You’ll learn to apply various theories to Holocaust and
Holocaust-related texts including those that concern relational and proxy
witnessing, genre, and trauma theory. You’ll develop your own critical voice
while preparing a research project that addresses questions such as:
Who has the authority to represent the
Holocaust?  Which are the privileged
generic forms, if any?  What do we know
of the music and the art from the Holocaust? 
What aesthetic, philosophical, and moral issues are at stake as direct
testimony becomes extinct?  How do we
assess the outpouring of poetry, novels, short stories, plays, children’s
literature, graphic comics, video testimony and films about the Holocaust? 



Weekly oral presentations and response journals (20%)

Short Essay with annotated bibliography (20%)

Prospectus for the Seminar Project  (10%)

Draft of Seminar Project (10%)

Seminar Project and oral presentation (40%)


Required Texts (There may be changes especially if you’ve previously read one of these

  • Bergen,
    Doris.  War & Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust
  • Borowski,
    Tadeusz. “This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen” (story or testimony)
  • Levi,
    Primo.  Survival in Auschwitz(memoir)
  • Ozick, Cynthia. The Shawl  (novella)
  • Sherman, Martin. 
  • Wiesel, Elie.  Night(memoir)
  • Lawrence Langer,
    ed., Art From the Ashes (selections
    by Dan Pagis, Paul Celan, Ida Fink, Charlotte Delbo, and Jean Amery will be
    available on Laulima).
  • Schlinck,
    Bernard.  The Reader (novel, parable)
  • Night and Fog or Europa, Europa  (film)
  • Spiegelman,
    Art.  Part I of Maus(graphic novel)
  • Yolen,
    Jane.  Briar Rose  (young adult
  • Video Testimonies
  • Critical/Theoretical selections will be available on Laulima