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Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies

With strengths in the history of anti-Semitism, Nazism, and the Holocaust as well as memory and representation of genocide and trauma, faculty associated with the Program in Jewish Culture and Society are making the University of Illinois one of the leading sites for research in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies. This new program provides a platform for cutting-edge research, teaching, and public engagement.


Illinois faculty are producing important scholarship on the history, literature, memory, and artistic representation of genocide and trauma. Recent, new, and forthcoming books by faculty in our program consider the history, implications, and aftereffects of the Holocaust in Austria, France, Germany, Russia/the Soviet Union, and the United States.


Faculty offer courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels through departments such as Anthropology, Comparative Literature, English, German, History, Religion, and Slavic Studies. A unique Graduate Certifcate in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies will be offered beginning in fall 2009. For more information on the certificate, click here. For more information on courses that count toward the certificate, click here.

HGMS is pleased to be part of a new international collaborative initiative for graduate studies, Mnemonics: Network for Memory Studies. Together with programs in Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, the UK, and the US, we will organize annual seminars where graduate students will have the opportunity to exchange ideas with their peers and leading scholars in memory studies. In June 2016 we will be hosting the annual Mnemonics Summer School. The theme will be "The Other Side of Memory: Forgetting, Denial, Repression."

Public Engagement

The initiative in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies regularly sponsors public lectures on anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, and genocide. The program kicked off in the fall of 2009 with a week-long visit by Shimon Attie and James Young, followed by a major conference, "Genocide, Memory, Justice: The Holocaust in Comparative Context." A regular works-in-progress seminar provides a forum for new work in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies. In the spring of 2010, the initiative collaborated with the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory on a seminar and conference dedicated to the theme of "Bios: Life, Death, Politics." In March 2011, it hosted a workshop titled "Annihilation, Archive, Autobiography: Networks of Testimony in German-Occupied Europe." In fall 2012, HGMS hosted an event marking the 25th anniversary of the death of Primo Levi (video here) as well as a workshop entitled "Recollection, Retribution, Reconciliation: Postmemory and Justice in a Transnational Age." As part of the Network in Transnational Memory Studies, HGMS organized the conference, "Diasporic Memories, Comparative Methodologies" in Fall 2013, featuring many leading international scholars in memory studies, including Aleida Assmann and Ann Rigney. Click here for more information.

In 2013, the Iniative deubted its blog, Days and Memory, to publicize and report on our local activities and to provide a space for wide-ranging, open discussion of issues pertinent to trauma and memory studies. Since 2013, an affiliated faculty and graduate student reading group, The Future of Trauma and Memory Studies, has also organized many on-campus events, including a gradaute student conference in Spring 2014 and a film series in Spring 2015.

Associated Faculty

Brett Kaplan, Interim Director, Initiative in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies

Contact Brett Kaplan for more information.