This course is about the intense difficulties faced by those who have felt the urgent need to describe their own and/or others' experiences during the genocide of European Jews and many other people, 1933-1945. We will explore the complex options such witnesses have faced as narrators, allegorists, memoirists, scholars, teachers, writers, and image-makers. Some linguistically (or visually) face the difficulty head on; most evade, avoid, repress, stutter, or go silent—and agonize. One purpose of the course is for us to learn how to empathize with the struggle of those in the latter group. This is not a history course, even though the vicissitudes of historiography will be a frequent topic of conversation.
Although the course will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:45 to 3:15 PM, there will be several required sessions outside those times. Students who enroll in the course must make themselves available for these. One will be a one-day all-day screening of the 9.5-hour film SHOAH on a Sunday in October or early November.
Students will write frequent short papers, called "position papers," due often and always before class in order to provide a basis for discussion. The mode of teaching will be discussion, never lecture.
Students need not know anything about the Holocaust in order to take the course, although enrollees should consider some historical reading over the summer.
The course will meet in the Arts Café of Kelly Writers House.