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Course Offerings in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies

The following is an incomplete list of courses that count for the Graduate Certificate in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies. If you are teaching or taking a course that should be listed, please contact Brett Kaplan.

2017/18

Fall 2017

JS 502: Introduction to Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies

This seminar will provide a graduate-level introduction to the field of Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies. We will survey some of the significant theorists of memory from the last century. Topics will include the relations between history, memory, and identity; power, politics, and contestation; media, generational change, and modes of transmission; and remembrance, justice, and globalization. Students will have the opportunity to design research projects in their own areas of interest. Requirements will include active participation, an oral presentation, one short response paper, and a final research paper. This course is recommended (but not required) for those contemplating the Certificate in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies and will be of interest to students across a broad range of disciplines and interests including but not limited to those working on the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, the Rwandan genocide, Cambodia, Indonesia, and/or memory and violence more generally.

LIS 590MMM: Memory Media, Memory Institutions, T 2-4:50

This seminar takes a broad, interdisciplinary look at the concept of memory. We examine personal memory, family memory, memory institutions, and cultural memory, drawing on theories and perspectives from neurocognitive psychology, cognitive sociology, library and information science, archival theory, history, and other disciplines. We will consider a wide range of materials such as memoirs, photography, memorials, genealogy and digital memory. This course will be applicable to a variety of fields of study and will be of particular interest to students studying intersections among some or all of culture, technology, media, social practices, and information.

2016/17

Spring 2017

ARTH 540: Collective Memory and Material Culture, T 2-4:50

This seminar explores the role of material culture in the formation of collective memory.  Part of the course will be devoted to examining leading theories of collective memory (Halbwachs, Nora, etc.) and their applicability to material culture past and present.  A second emphasis shall be the changes historically in collective memory from the early modern to the modern period. Much current scholarship on collective memory gives a central place to the twentieth century, and particularly to such traumatic, horrific, and deadly events as World War I and the Holocaust. We shall explore the applicability of ideas formed in relation to such twentieth-century events to earlier periods, and particularly to the Napoleonic wars. Case studies in the course will emphasize collective memory in relation to the fine arts in nineteenth-century France, and especially in relation to memories of the Napoleonic wars, but students in the seminar may explore research topics related to any period, place, or medium.  Students from all disciplines are welcome.

LIS 588: Research Design in LIS, M 9-11:50

This class provides an introduction to the philosophy and design of research. It is a required class for PhD students in the Library and Information Science ("LIS") program, but open to other PhD students as well. Because students in LIS come from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds, including history and other humanities, the course will potentially be useful to students in memory studies. It may be particularly useful for students with humanities backgrounds who are considering broadening their methodological approach to include social science or data science techniques. The course will begin with an in-depth consideration of the philosophical and logical underpinnings of research. We will then briefly survey different methods used in LIS research. Throughout the class the emphasis will be on research design choices, especially the connections between research questions and research methods.

2015/16

Fall 2016

CWL 571: Seminar in Literary Relations, M 2-4:50

At the beginning of the 20th century moderns and modernists announced their break with the past and launched various artistic, philosophical, political, and social experiments that claimed to construct society and the individual anew. The machine, speed, technology, and the future were the watchwords of Futurists and other modernist groups. Revolutionary transformation on all fronts was the way forward. In the same period advances in science and technology radically changed the horizon of possibility. Yet other important artists and thinkers offered the contrasting view that the past remains alive in the present—both in individuals and in human cultures. Memory was key to the future. CWL 571 focuses on the second tendency by examining the work of three theorists—Henri Bergson, Viktor Shklovsky, and Walter Benjamin—and three literary authors—David Bergelson, Virginia Woolf, and Osip Mandelshtam. Selected readings from the critical literature serve as points of departure.

Spring 2016

GER 576: Migration and Memory, Yasemin Yildiz, T 3-4:50

This course will draw on both cultural memory studies and on migration studies in order to investigate the intersection of migration and memory.

Two diametrically opposed assumptions generally govern thinking about the effects of migration on memory: either that migration leads to a loss of memory or that migrants live enclosed in their memories of a lost homeland. In this course we will critically examine these assumptions. Considering diverse forms of displacement, we will pay particular attention to the material, institutional, and discursive conditions under which memory is shaped in migration. As part of this consideration, we will expand our perspective from literary texts to film, performance, and digital archives and ask questions about the production and transmission of memory, inheritance of the past, effect of language choice and translation on remembering, and role of media and mediations.

The material for this course is primarily chosen from the contemporary German context but by necessity reaches beyond it. Students from different fields are therefore invited to join and will have the opportunity to develop their own research within the framework of the class. (The course will be taught in English; all works will be made available in translation.) Authors may include W.G. Sebald, Barbara Honigmann, Emine Sevgi Ozdamar, Yoko Tawada, Olga Grjasnowa, and Hans-Ulrich Treichel.

HIS 504: History of the Present: Genealogies and Narratives of War in Afghanistan and Iraq, Peter Fritzsche, T 1-3

As a class, we will try to configure intellectual tools to understand the practice and experience of modern war in Afghanistan and Iraq drawing on among other things Michel Foucault’s concept of “The History of the Present,” the one-hundredth anniversary of World War I, the pedagogy of the Vietnam War, and the lessons of counter-insurgency. We will begin with an analysis of the memory and literature of war in the twentieth century, including Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory, Daniel Swift’s Bomber County: The Poetry of a Lost Pilot’s War, Jean Larteguy’s 1960 novel about Algeria, The Centurions, Tim O’Brien’s Vietnam classic, The Things They Carried, and Anthony Swofford’s Persian Gulf memoir, Jarhead, and then we will move on to work in common to find finger and hand grips on the wars since 2001. We will be making the class up together.

AIS 501: Indigenous Critical Theory, Robert Warrior, T 3-4:50

Course description to come.

At Illinois State University:

HIS 336: Genocide Studies, Katrin Paehler, T/R 11-12:15

The 20th Century has been dubbed "A Century of Genocide," a description that is at once slightly misleading and goes to the core of this class. The term genocide and its definition are--by a historian's standard--brand new (slightly more thyan sixty years old). The practice--depending on how one defines it--is undoubtedly much older, though. Scholars, writers, journalists, politicians, and the public at large struggle with definitions, explanations, and comarisons of genocide(s) as well as attempts at prevention. This class engages this important and contentious debate. What exactly is genocide? What distinguishes genocide from other horrendous instances of mass violence? How does genocide/mass violence come about? How does it evolve? And why does it happen? How does it vary? Can it be prevented?

We will begin this class with an investigation as to how and why the term genocide was coined, its usefullness, its uses and, maybe, abuses, and its shorcomings. Subsequently, we will investigate a number of case studies of genocide/mass violence and their specific nature, looking for differences and commonalities among them.

 

2014/15

Spring 2015

ENGL 578: Literature and Other Disciplines & CWL 561: Genres and Forms, Michael Rothberg and Lilya Kaganovsky, M 5-8 (Screening) & W 3-4:50

This seminar will focus on non-fiction cinematic works that depict and reflect on key moments in twentieth-century history. It will be team-taught by Lilya Kaganovsky, a scholar of Russian and Soviet film, and Michael Rothberg, a scholar of memory, trauma, and genocide. In order to explore the documentary impulse as a broad aesthetic tendency, we will juxtapose film with other documentary experiments in photography, literature, and painting. We will be especially interested in works that thematize memory, trauma, testimony, and forgetting and engage with some of the most extreme events of the last century, including World War II, the Holocaust, and the Leningrad Blockade as well as the formation and deformation of the Soviet and Nazi states and the upheavals of the 1960s. Drawing on experiments with documentary form by American, French, German, Israeli, and Soviet/post-Soviet filmmakers, we will pursue questions of referentiality, aesthetics, and archiving and inquire into the politics of non-fiction representation. Discussion of particular films will be supplemented by critical and theoretical work on documentary cinema, cultural memory, trauma, and historical representation.

REES 596/EURO 596/INFO 490: Genetic Technologies, Social Networks & the Reimagining of Race, Judith Pintar, W 12-2:20

Exploring the ways in which genetic knowledge comes into play in the collective re‐imagining of racial categories, identities and futures, ranging from the pseudoscientific racist to the utopian "post‐racial," we take into consideration the social, cultural, geographic and historical contexts within which scientific understandings of the relationship between genetics and race were reimagined in the late 20th century, and continue to be in flux in the 21st. Among the topics of interest are the popular fascination with genetic genealogy, the commodification of identifiable genetic markers, nationalist applications of genetic findings to strengthen ethnic origin myths and territorial claims, and the new genetic racism of white supremacists who speak fluently the language of mtDNA and concern themselves with the Ice Age inhabitation of the refuges of the last glacial maximum. During the course of the semester we will research in real time the paths that genetic research findings take across diverse social networks (genealogical, commercial, biomedical, academic, political and religious) as genetic knowledge is received, framed, narrated, and disseminated.

 

Fall 2014

SLAV 525: Problems in Slavic Literature, Harriet Murav, M 2-5:00

The concept of a unit of time has begun to falter and it is no accident that contemporary mathematics has advanced the principle of relativity." CWL 571 explores time, memory, and perception as these concepts were formulated in the early 20th century by literary authors, scientists, and theoreticians from Russia, Germany, France, and Britain. The writers to be examined include Henri Bergson, Sigmund Freud, Walter Benjamin, Virginia Woolf, David Bergelson, and Osip Mandelshtam. No knowledge of Russian required.

At Illinois State University:

ENGL 495: Topics in English: Troubling Racialized Sexuality and Gender Constructs in Holocaust Literature, Paula Ressler

Holocaust studies is often conceptualized as neutral in relation to sexuality and gender, as are a number of other instances of genocide, including the genocides against indigenous peoples throughout the world and peoples of African descent as a result of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. In this course we will explore the complex and often-ignored implications of gender and sexuality that appear in Holocaust-related literature to see the specific ways that women and men and gay and straight, Jewish and Gentile, were impacted by the mass violence and genocide that occurred from 1933-1945, particularly in Europe. We will study this literature to deepen our understanding of the cultural and historical context of Nazism, its ability to cause so much widespread and unspeakable suffering, the possibilities and impossibilities of resistance, and how its aftermath impacts our lives today.

We will read across literary genres and film, and apply what we learn from theoretical and historical texts to see how the Third Reich’s racialized and nationalized sexuality and gender constructs shaped the world of the 1930s and 1940s and continues to influence today’s world. We will explore racialized sexuality and gender constructs in the literature we read from the perspectives of victims, survivors, perpetrators, witnesses, bystanders, resisters, and their descendants. We will compare these constructs to those from other cultures and time periods to discern their commonalities and differences, and speculate about the potential for future genocides given the nature and difficulty of undoing centuries of racist and sexist social constructs.
The course will include on-line discussion assignments, the writing of literary analysis papers, and a research paper based upon individual students’ interests.

2013/14

Spring 2014

CWL 561: Aesthetics of Catastrophe, Brett Kaplan, T 2-4

Many catastrophes, from the Holocaust to Hiroshima, from 9/11 to Katrina, have been represented in paintings, literary texts, monuments, countermonuments, films, operas, photographs or other media. This course explores the aesthetics of catastrophe and asks such questions as: what are the intersections between aesthetics and ethics? Is it possible to depict traumatic events without aestheticization? What are the implications of how catastrophes appear to us through aestheticized lenses?

 

Fall 2013


History 502A: Problems in Comparative History, Peter Fritzsche, M 1-3

Topic: Memories of Disaster

In this interdisciplinary course, we will explore “catastrophe and the modern imagination,” pairing fiction with non-fiction and analyses of catastrophe with the politics of its representation. Topics will include Columbine, the extinction of the dinosaurs and global warming, millenialism, revolution, terror and counter-insurgency, colonialism and famine, the Great Depression, war and genocide, rape and race, and the financial crisis of 2008. Texts include Maurice Blanchot, Don DeLillo, Tom LaHaye, Mary Shelley, Mike Davis, John Steinbeck, Susan Rubin Suleiman, Tzvetan Todorov, Irene Nemirovsky, Eve Ensler, J.M. Coetzee, John Dower, Philip Gourevitch, Eugene Burdick, Sebastian Faulks, and Michael Lewis. For the first day of class, students are expected to have read Dave Cullen, Columbine, and Joan Didion, Blue Nights. Requirements: The heart and soul of the course is class discussion. Students will be expected to introduce one week of readings and write four short historiographical essays (5-6pp) on weeks of their own choosing.


Slavic 452: Global Memory Studies, Harriet Murav, TR 1-2:20

This course introduces students to the central tenets of memory studies in an interdisciplinary and transnational context. Addressing both local and global aspects of memory and mourning, the seminar focuses on poetic forms and political functions of cultural memory around the globe. Our examples are drawn primarily from imaginative literature and film, but the seminar also addresses other cultural genres such as the visual arts, museums, monuments, the internet, and commemorative rituals. In addition to classic texts (Freud, Caruth, Assmann), special focus will be given to specific regions, including Eastern Europe, Russian, Latin America, and Asia. The course is open to undergraduates and graduate students.

 

2012/13

Spring 2013

JS 502: Introduction to Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies, Michael Rothberg, Th 3-5

Topic: Memory Studies and the Traumatic Present

This seminar will provide a graduate-level introduction to the field of memory studies with an emphasis on the remembrance of traumatic histories. In the first half of the course, we will survey the most significant theorists of memory from the last century. Although our focus will be on collective memory—via the work of Maurice Halbwachs, Pierre Nora, Jan and Aleida Assmann, Paul Connerton, Andreas Huyssen, Marianne Hirsch, and others—we will also consider individual memory and the question of trauma through readings by Sigmund Freud, Cathy Caruth, Shoshana Felman, and others. Topics will include the relations between history, memory, and identity; power, politics, and contestation; media, generational change, and modes of transmission; and remembrance, justice, and globalization. In the second half of the semester, we will turn to comparative case studies from twentieth-century histories of genocide and extreme violence. We will consider modes of remembrance and commemoration of the Nazi genocide of European Jews, the Rwandan genocide, and the Armenian genocide, among other potential examples.
        Many of our readings will be taken from The Collective Memory Reader (ed. by Olick, Vinitzky-Seroussi, and Levy), but these will be supplemented by a course reader containing other works of history, literature, and theory. Students will have the opportunity to design research projects in their own areas of interest. Requirements will include active participation, an oral presentation, three short response papers, and a final research paper. This course is recommended (but not required) for those contemplating the Certificate in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies.


CMN 529/LIS 590/HIST 502: Seminar Communication Theory, Susan Davis, W 2-4:50

Topic: Oral History: Theory and Practice

This course introduces graduate students to oral history as a theory and method of history. In the last four decades, oral history has seen enormous growth in kinds of projects, techniques, and in the questions it asks about the past. While we look at newer oral history studies from the USA, Western Europe, South America and Africa, students will begin the challenging process of project design and field work in oral history.

 

Fall 2012

ENG 578G: Seminar Literature and Other Disciplines, Michael Rothberg, W 3-5:30

Topic: The Implicated Subject: Distant Suffering in Literature and Theory

What kinds of claims does the past make on the present? In what ways are we responsible for events that take place at a great distance as well as those that are close at hand? This seminar will address the ethics and politics of distant suffering from literary, cinematic, and theoretical angles. With a focus on both the temporally and the spatially distant—including a focus on how “distance” and “proximity” are constructed—the course will explore what might be called an “archive of implication”: a deliberately open-ended term that gathers together various modes of historical and ethical relation that do not necessarily (or simply) fall under the more direct forms of participation associated with traumatic or violent events, such as victimization and perpetration. Such “implicated” modes of relation encompass bystanders, beneficiaries, latecomers of the postmemory generation, and others connected powerfully to pasts they did not directly experience or to contemporary contexts that might seem far away. A consideration of the issues associated with these implicated subject positions moves us away from overt questions of guilt and innocence and into the more uncertain moral and ethical terrain of complicity. Problems of ethical and political implication will be explored via contemporary literary, cinematic, and theoretical texts dealing with: war, genocide, slavery, apartheid, colonialism, and contemporary globalization. Since the course is meant as an experiment in developing new ways of thinking about social and historical relationality, students will be encouraged to draw on their own research interests and explore archives of implication beyond those mentioned here. To the extent possible, we will try to incorporate such interests into the syllabus.
        Requirements will include: active participation, several short response papers, and a seminar paper. Likely readings will include (but will not be limited to): Judith Butler, Frames of War; Octavia Butler, Kindred; Stanley Cohen, States of Denial; Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss; Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist; Saidiya Hartman, Lose Your Mother; Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place; Antje Krog, Country of My Skull; Joe Sacco, The Fixer; Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others; films by Stephanie Black (Life and Debt), Michael Haneke (Caché), and William Kentridge (Drawings for Projection); and essays by Timothy Bewes, Luc Boltanski, Marianne Hirsch, Primo Levi, Mark Sanders, Gabriele Schwab, and others.

 

2011/12

Spring 2012

CMN 529/LIS 590/HIST 502: Seminar Communication Theory, Susan Davis, W 2-4:50

Topic: Oral History: Theory and Practice

This course introduces graduate students to oral history as a theory and method of history. In the last four decades, oral history has seen enormous growth in kinds of projects, techniques, and in the questions it asks about the past. While we look at newer oral history studies from the USA, Western Europe, South America and Africa, students will begin the challenging process of project design and field work in oral history.

GER 575/CWL 593: 20th C German Studies, Anke Pinkert, W 3-4:50

Topic: Memory and the Ethics of Healing in Post 1989 Literature

Literature Scholars have described the historical turning point 1989 in terms of trauma and loss. In this course, we will move beyond this emphasis on historical violence in order to explore how post 1989 literature develops more reparative and restorative modes to work through multiple pasts, including the Holocaust, World War II, the GDR, and 1989 itself. Focusing on post-1989 literature by East German, West German, German-Rumanian and other authors, we will examine how memory in these texts functions to constitute viable relations and bonds in the aftermath of the collapse of socialism (often referring back to the war and postwar era). Here, we will pay particular attention to the ways in which literary narratives reflect on their own memory work (through autobiography, photographs, documents, travel) and how they help us understand the role played by feelings and the body in the process of remembering and healing. Moreover, shifting between analysis and receptivity, we will explore different reading/healing modes. We will conclude with texts that shift seemingly out of historical memory and that are more deliberate in exploring recovery and vitality in a posthistorical present.

 

At Illinois State University:

ENG 495: TOPICS IN ENGLISH, Paula Ressler, T 2-4:50

TOPIC: Troubling Racialized Sexuality and Gender Constructs in Holocaust Literature

Holocaust studies is often conceptualized as neutral in relation to sexuality and gender, as are a number of other instances of genocide, including the genocides against indigenous peoples throughout the world and peoples of African descent as a result of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. In this course we will explore the complex and often-ignored implications of gender and sexuality that appear in Holocaust-related literature to see the specific ways that women and men and gay and straight, Jewish and Gentile, were impacted by the mass violence and genocide that occurred from 1933-1945, particularly in Europe. We will study this literature to deepen our understanding of the cultural and historical context of Nazism, its ability to cause so much widespread and unspeakable suffering, the possibilities and impossibilities of resistance, and how its aftermath impacts our lives today.

We will read across literary genres and film, and apply what we learn from theoretical and historical texts to see how the Third Reich’s racialized and nationalized sexuality and gender constructs shaped the world of the 1930s and 1940s and continues to influence today’s world. We will explore racialized sexuality and gender constructs in the literature we read from the perspectives of victims, survivors, perpetrators, witnesses, bystanders, resisters, and their descendants. We will compare these constructs to those from other cultures and time periods to discern their commonalities and differences, and speculate about the potential for future genocides given the nature and difficulty of undoing centuries of racist and sexist social constructs.
The course will include on-line discussion assignments, the writing of literary analysis papers, and a research paper based upon individual students’ interests.

HIST 335: THE HOLOCAUST: THE EVENT AND ITS AFTERMATH, Katrin Paehler, T-TH 9:35-10:50

 

Fall 2011

CWL 561: SEMINAR GENRES – FORMS, Brett Kaplan, T 1-2:50

TOPIC: Race and Alternative History

This course looks at race, alternative histories (loosely defined) and contemporary art. We will examine works by Glenn Ligon, Cara Walker, Philip Roth, Michael Chabon, and others as well as reading theories by Saidiya Hartman, Judith Halberstam, and others.

JS 501: GRADUATE INTRODUCTION TO JEWISH STUDIES, Bruce Rosenstock. F 12-2:50

TOPIC: Carl Schmitt and his Jewish Enemies

The course will cover Schmitt's political theology, the concept of the Katechon, and the jurisprudential philosophy of history in Nomos of the Earth. The Jewish writers who directly respond to Schmitt and who be studied include Walther Benjamin, Ernst Bloch, Leo Strauss, Hannah Arendt, Jacob Taubes, and Jacques Derrida. The conflict between Schmitt and these thinkers focuses on the relationship between justice and violence.

At Illinois State University:

HIST 308: TOPICS IN EUROPEAN HISTORY, Katrin Paehler. W 3-5:50

TOPIC: History and Film: Representation of the Holocaust (and World War II) in International Feature Films

This class investigates representations of the Holocaust and World War II in international feature films made over the last sixty years, thus focusing on an art form that many people do not even consider as such.  However, films have a tremendous impact on public perceptions and as historians we should strive to understand films and their relationship to the past and present better.  This class sets out to do exactly that, and its core investigation is guided by a myriad of puzzling and fascinating questions:
     How do different societies represent WWII and the Holocaust at different points in time, and what does this tell us about these societies?  Why, and for what reasons, did certain films receive high-marks from film and history scholars?
     What makes a good, ‘acceptable,’ Holocaust movie- in the eyes of the scholar and/or in the eyes of the film-going public?  What is the relationship between feature films and written history?  Is there a cinematographic iconography to films about the Holocaust?  How do historians deal with the depiction of the Holocaust on film?  How have feature films on the Holocaust shaped and still shape the memory of this  crucial event?  How have films influenced the public discourse on the Holocaust?  And – most vexingly – is it morally admissible to make movies about the Holocaust or does such a film violate the victims one more time by making their suffering a plot line as well as a commodity?
     In class, we will study the historiography of the Holocaust, film theory, and criticism and apply these readings to a number of movies; in other words, this is a very work-intensive class.  We will, however, not exclusively focus on those films historians and cultural critics have heralded as ‘valuable’ and acceptable, but will also watch films less acclaimed, yet sometimes disproportionately influential on society at large.  This process will enable us to better understand, critically evaluate, and in some cases, appreciate a medium that, for better or worse, has become the public’s primary point of reference in their understanding of the Holocaust and World War II.

 

2010/11

Spring 2011

YDSH 102: BEGINNING YIDDISH II, Harriet Murav, MTWTH 10

Continuation of YDSH 101 focusing on comprehension and reading skills. Prerequisite: YDSH 101. This research language course is part of HGMS, but does not count toward the requirements of the graduate certificate.

EALC 398-EALC 550: IRRATIONALISM, FANATICISM, AND TERRORISM IN JAPAN, David G. Goodman, T-TH, 10:30-11:50

This course examines the interrelated phenomena of irrationalism, fanaticism, and terrorism in Japan since the nineteenth century and representative literary and cinematic works that treat them.  Its thesis is that the most significant instances of these phenomena are expressions of a millenarian impulse—an impulse to effect a radical, once-and-for-all change in the human condition that will usher in an era of eternal peace and happiness—that runs through modern Japanese history.  The course examines the Shimabara Rebellion, the Meiji Restoration, the February 26 (1936) Incident,  the phenomenon of antisemitism in Japan, the kamikaze, right-wing assassinations of political leaders, the “world revolution” sought by the left-wing Japanese Red Army, and the 1995 Aum Shinrikyō gassing of the Tokyo subway system.  The course will compare these examples to similar phenomena in other societies and try to come to an understanding of the millenarian impulse as an integral part of human history.  Readings include works by Ōe Kenzaburō, Mishima Yukio, and Murakami Haruki.

JS 502 [Meets with ENGL 578]: INTRODUCTION TO HOLOCAUST, GENOCIDE, AND MEMORY STUDIES, Michael Rothberg. T 1-2:50

This course will employ a multi-disciplinary methodology to introduce students to the key issues and debates in comparative genocide studies; the goal will be to provide students with the tools to pursue original research in a variety of relevant fields and disciplines. We will work from several different historical cases—including the genocide of indigenous peoples in Australia and North America; genocides in colonial and postcolonial Africa (German Southwest Africa and Rwanda); and the Nazi genocide of European Jews—in order to explore the origins, unfolding, and long term legacies of extreme violence. We will consider the problem of definitions and conceptualizations of genocide and raise questions about such topics as culture and barbarism; race, gender, sexuality, and violence; victimization, trauma, and testimony; history, memory, and memorialization; transgenerational transmission and postmemory; art and literature in the wake of catastrophe; and reconciliation, forgiveness, and post-genocidal justice. A heterogeneous array of materials will orient our discussions: primary documents, historical studies, diaries and memoirs, philosophical works, literary texts, and visual culture. Students will have the opportunity to pursue individually tailored research projects.

Possible texts include: Peter Fritzsche, Life and Death in the Third Reich; Scott Straus, The Order of Genocide: Race, Power, and War in Rwanda; Neil Levi and Michael Rothberg, ed., The Holocaust: Theoretical Readings; Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub, Testimony; Charlotte Delbo, Auschwitz and After; Georges Didi-Huberman, Images in Spite of All; Dirk Moses, ed., Empire, Colony, Genocide; Caryl Phillips, Higher Ground; Boubacar Boris Diop, Murambi, The Book of Bones; Mahmood Mamdani, Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror. In addition, we will read essays and selections by Zygmunt Bauman, Paul Gilroy, Sara Guyer, Dagmar Herzog, Marianne Hirsch, Karl Jacoby, Brett Kaplan, Raphael Lemkin, David Moshman, Jürgen Zimmerer, and others, and watch films by Alain Resnais, Claude Lanzmann, and others.

CWL 561: AESTHETICS OF CATASTROPHE, Brett Kaplan, TH 1-3:30

Many catastrophes, from the Holocaust to Hiroshima, from 9/11 to Katrina, have been represented in paintings, literary texts, monuments, countermonuments, films, operas, photographs or other media. This course explores the aesthetics of catastrophe and asks such questions as: what are the intersections between aesthetics and ethics? Is it possible to depict traumatic events without aestheticization? What are the implications of how catastrophes appear to us through aestheticized lenses? Course materials include Philippe Lacoue Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy, “The Nazi Myth”; Waltz with Bashir; Lynn Nicholas, The Rape of Europa; Don DeLillo, Falling Man; Aric Meyer, “Aesthetics of Catastrophe”; Kaja Silverman, Flesh of my Flesh; War Photographer.

At Illinois State University:

HIST 335: THE HOLOCAUST: THE EVENT AND ITS AFTERMATH, Katrin Paehler, T-TH, 11:00 am-12:15 pm

HIST 497.1: RESEARCH IN HISTORY, Katrin Paehler, TH, 5:30-9:20 pm

This course considers the contested relationship between history and memory (public and private), its respective uses and abuses in multiple contexts, and its transnational impact. Students' research papers will deal with these issues in a context of their choosing.

 

Fall 2010

YDSH 101: BEGINNING YIDDISH I, Harriet Murav, MTWTH 10

Course develops basic conversational and reading skills as well as the essentials of Yiddish grammar. This research language course is part of HGMS, but does not count toward the requirements of the graduate certificate.

HIST 551A: PROBLEMS IN EUROPEAN HISTORY SINCE 1789, Peter Fritzsche. M 1-2:50

TOPIC: Modern Germany: Political Innovation and Cultural Politics in an Era of National Identity, Genocide, and Memory

In the last ten years, German historiography has seen dramatic challenges. “New” orthodoxies seem suddenly very old. Novel perspectives have been offered by gender history, the history of the everyday, and poststructuralism. Certainties about modernism and antimodernism have been widely questioned. New continuities and discontinuities have been put into view by sustained research on bio-politics, the Holocaust, and the memory of the disaster of war and mass murder. This course will examine ongoing debates about the nature of society and politics, the quality of modernism, the constitution of violence, the rise of fascism, the "continuity" of history in the Third Reich, the Holocaust, postwar patterns of commemoration, and more. The course may be taken either as a problems course or as a research seminar. If you plan to take the course as a research seminar you must see Professor Fritzsche during pre-registration.

 

 

2009/10

Fall 2009

ENG 563G: SEMINAR THEMES AND MOVEMENTS, Cary Nelson. M 3-5:50

TOPIC: The Theory and Practice of Holocaust Poetry

In Survival in Auschwitz holocaust survivor and writer Primo Levi decribes an indicative incident during his first days at the camp. Desperately thirsty, he reached out a window to grasp an icicle. A beefy guard knocked it away. “Warum?” Levi asked. The succinct answer carried a certain uncanny ethical and philosophical depth: “Hier ist kein warum.” Here there is no why. If the question could not be posed in the death camps, can it be posed in poetry instead? Can poetry put forth its humanity in the face of a world where all such values were extinguished?

In 1940 the Hungarian poet Miklós Radnóti (1909-1944) was drafted into a labor battalion along with thousands of his fellow Jews. As the war progressed and Hungary brought its policies into greater compliance with those of its German ally, these labor battalions, brutal from the outset, became increasingly lethal. Beaten and starved, the Jews were now randomly murdered. Radnóti nonetheless transformed the horror into poems and wrote them in a small notebook. On August 29, 1944, nearing the end, he wrote the first of four poems under the title “Razglednicas,” Serbo-Croatian for “picture postcards.” A month later he writes the last of the “Razglednicas” on the back of a cod-liver oil advertizing notice he found discarded. The poem predicts his death: “shot in the neck . . . blood mixed with mud was drying on my ear.” On November 9th he met the fate he had anticipated, but nineteen months later, the war over, his body was distinterred and the blood stained poems recovered. Is it sufficient justification for poetry that his testimony now outlives his executioners?

There is no more severe challenge to the humane aspirations, social functions, and theoretical accounts of poetry than that posed by the holocaust. Leo Haber calls it “pale consolation, dear God of poetry, of justice, of mercy, / of explanations, for the murder of little children.” Adorno famously remarked that to write poetry after Auschwitz was obscene. Yet poetry was written both during the war and after, including anti-Semitic poems produced by the Nazis themselves. In that context we might conclude that the genre was so marked by its demonic uses that its myths of transcendence became a cruel joke. We will examine this whole history—poems written by wartime victims, witnesses, and perpetrators; poems written by later generations seeking to keep the historical memories alive and make the events more real. We will read poems from many different countries, using English language texts but comparing them to the original language texts whenever possible. In some cases multiple translations of individual poems exist. Again, we will compare them. Some translators feel one should find equivalents for Radnoti’s rhymes; others feel that is the worst choice possible.

Although studying holocaust poetry may seem a daunting way to spend a semester, the experience of discussing these poems in a group is actually tremendously restorative. Working through these powerful texts collaboratively, discussing what rhetorical strategies do and do not succeed, interrogating the relationship between the lyric and both history and contemporaneity, gives new importance to a collaborative model of criticism and to the help we can give one another.

Among the poets we will study in detail are Paul Celan, Jacob Glatstein, William Heyen, Dan Pagis, Radnóti, Charles Reznikoff, Nelly Sachs, W. D. Snodgrass, and Abraham Sutzkever. We will also read poems by Brian Daldorph, Jorie Graham, Anthony Hecht, Denise Levertov, Primo Levi, Czeslaw Milosz, János Pilinsky, Robert Pinsky, Sylvia Plath, Hilda Schiff, Anne Sexton, and many others, among them the Yiddish poets Aaron Kramer has translated. For general background we’ll read War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust by Doris Bergen. In addition to a selection of poems, each week’s readings will include essays from The Holocaust: Theoretical Readings, edited by Neil Levi and Michael Rothberg. Anthologies we will use include Marguerite Striar, ed. Beyond Lament: Poets of the World Bearing Witness to the Holocaust, Charles Fishman, ed. Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust, Hilda Schiff, ed. Holocaust Poetry, and Aaron Kramer, ed., The Last Lullaby. You may want to get discounted copies of these books in advance from amazon.com or abebooks.com. We will conduct the class as a collective, collaborative project of interpretation and analysis. The seminar does not assume expertise on the holocaust, merely willingness to discuss the relevant issues.

Please email any questions about the course to Cary Nelson.


MDIA 590P: MOVING MEMORIES: HISTORY AND MEMORY STUDIES IN COMMUNICATION, Kent Ono. Th 3-5:50

The role of history and memory in communication studies is highly significant. What is remembered, how it is remembered, and what the effect of remembrance is are all questions central to communication studies. Yet, writing and teaching on the subject has been haphazard at best. The excitement around history and memory, and now forgetting studies, beginning in the 1990s continues on, but it is still relatively rare to see publications in communication, a field arguably closest to the daily mass production of cultural memory. This course takes the topic of history, memory, and forgetting seriously, first, by thinking through the significance of these concepts across a variety of fields and then by thinking specifically through the importance of history, memory, and forgetting within communication studies. Part of what we will seek to understand is how media and film participate in the construction of history and memory and how they participate in forgetting. What particular role do visual media play in the creation of what is known? And, how do our questions about remembrance help shape the way we see media, creating history and memory into the future? Download the syllabus here.

Please email any questions about the course to Kent Ono.

 

Spring 2010

ENG 581: SEMINAR LITERARY THEORY, Michael Rothberg. W 3-5:20

TOPIC: Trauma, Memory, Justice

This course will consider three linked keywords of recent literary and cultural theory: trauma, memory, and justice. In the first section of the course, we will explore the emergence of trauma theory, an approach meant to shed light on the event and aftermath of extreme violence. Working from both classic texts such as Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle and post-Freudian interventions by Nicholas Abraham and Maria Torok, Cathy Caruth, Shoshana Felman, Dominick LaCapra, and others, we will address the contributions a theory of trauma can make to understanding modern histories of violence. Because such a theory seeks to describe a form of violence that persists beyond an initial event—a “structure of experience” characterized by belatedness—memory becomes a central category in approaches to trauma and will constitute the second focus of our course. Trauma both troubles ordinary memory and seems to call for new forms of remembrance, testimony, and witness as part of strategies of working through and confronting violence. In taking up the paradoxical category of “traumatic memory,” we will draw on influential work on individual and collective memory by theorists such as Freud, Maurice Halbwachs, Pierre Nora, Andreas Huyssen, Marianne Hirsch, and Saidiya Hartman. Yet, as crucial as memory is in responding to trauma, remembrance alone cannot constitute an adequate response to histories of extreme violence. Such histories also raise questions about justice, that is, about what forms of social practice and organization can address and transform the conditions that have produced trauma in the past and continue to do so in the present. In this third section of the course, we will read theorists of justice such as Jean-François Lyotard, Nancy Fraser, and Adi Ophir and confront questions about commensurability, recognition, redistribution, and representation. Throughout the course, we will also take up feminist, Marxist, queer, postcolonial, and other critiques of the concepts of trauma and memory by scholars such as Alain Badiou, Lauren Berlant, Laura Brown, Wendy Brown, Frantz Fanon, Kerwin Lee Klein, Ruth Leys, David Lloyd, Peter Novick, and Walter Benn Michaels. Such critics raise questions such as the following: What are the political and conceptual limits of trauma as a category? How well does it translate beyond a Eurocentric horizon? Do discourses of trauma and memory always serve the interests of justice or can they turn into catalysts for revenge and further cycles of violence? What categories beyond trauma and memory might contribute to alternative conceptions of justice?

In seeking answers to these theoretical conundrums, we will also weave in readings of specific literary and cinematic examples that explore what Paul Gilroy has called the “underside” of modernity: colonialism, slavery, and genocide. These texts may be chosen from the following list: Jean Améry, At the Mind’s Limits; Octavia Butler, Kindred; J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace; Achmat Dangor, Bitter Fruit; Charlotte Delbo, Days and Memory; Michael Haneke, Caché; Ghassan Kanafani, “Returning to Haifa”; Claude Lanzmann, Shoah; Toni Morrison, Beloved; Caryl Phillips, The Atlantic Sound or Higher Ground; W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz; and Art Spiegelman, Maus.

Supplementary recommended texts that students might want to familiarize themselves with ahead of time include: Roger Luckhurst, The Trauma Question and Anne Whitehead, Memory. This course will count toward the Certificate in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies.

HIST 502C: PROBLEMS IN COMPARATIVE HISTORY, Peter Fritzsche. M 3-4:50

TOPIC: Catastrophe and the Modern Imagination

In this interdisciplinary course, we will explore “catastrophe and the modern imagination,” pairing fiction with non-fiction and analyses of catastrophe with the politics of its representation. Topics will include Katrina, the extinction of the dinosaurs and global warming, millenialism, revolution, terror, colonialism, famine, the Great Depression, war and killing, the Holocaust, genocide, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and memory, truth, and reconciliation. Readings will include Dave Eggers, Zeitoun, Maurice Blanchot’s The Writing of the Disaster, Don DeLillo’s Falling Man, Paul Martin’s Twilight of the Mammoths, Tom LaHaye’s Left Behind, Sven Lindqvist’s “Exterminate all the Brutes”, Mike Davis’ Late Victorian Holocausts, Michael Taussig’s Law in a Lawless Land, Amartya Sen’s Poverty and Famine, Paul Fussell’s, The Great War and Modern Memory, Hans Nossack’s The End, Lawrence Langer’s Holocaust Memories, Robert Eaglestone’s The Holocaust and the Postmodern, Dave Grossman, On Killing, Mahmood Mamdani’s When Victims Become Killers, Fiona Ross’s Bearing Witness, J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace, and Philip Bobbitt’s Terror and Consent. Please read Eggers for the first day.

LA 390/590: LANDSCAPE, COMMEMORATION, AND TRAUMA: SLAVERY SITES, Rebecca Ginsburg. MW 2-3:50

Why do we commemorate the past? Are there instances when we would do better to forget? Can the physical form of a memorial support, or undermine, its healing functions? And how do the answers to these questions change when it comes to commemorating horrific historical episodes, such as slavery?

This seminar will be divided into three sections. In the first, we’ll acquaint ourselves with various theories of and approaches to commemoration. Next, we’ll learn more about commemoration within the special context of slavery, especially Atlantic slavery.
Finally, we’ll consider a real-life case, that of the island of Sao Tome, one of the key sites of the development of the Atlantic
slave system. What are the particular issues raised by commemorating slavery on the island and what might an appropriate monument to slavery there look like?

This seminar applies theory to practice in a real historical setting. While some students will take it in conjunction with a design studio, design expertise is not required, just an interest in thinking about the social impact and moral implications of built landscapes.