JWST 490
Memory, History, and the Extermination of the Jews of Europe
Last Offered Spring 2017
Division II Writing Skills
Cross-listed HIST 490
This course is not offered in the current catalog

Class Details

The atrocities committed by Nazi Germany during the Second World War continue to trouble historians in their attempts to understand and represent them in all their magnitude and horror. Beyond historians, the complicity of segments of European societies in perpetrating those atrocities continues to raise thorny questions for postwar European nations about what their responsibilities are toward that past. This tutorial will focus on a series of questions relating to the historicization and memorialization of the extermination of European Jews. They include: Is the Holocaust unique? Is it a Jewish story or universal story? Does the Holocaust raise different issues for the historian than other historical events? How should the Holocaust be represented and what are the implications of different means of representing it? What role, if any, did European Jews play in their own destruction? Has Germany faced up to its past? Were Germans also victims of World War II? Who were the “bystanders” as compared to the “perpetrators”? Were the postwar trials of perpetrators a travesty of justice? How appropriate are the different uses that Israel and the United States have made of the Holocaust? By the end of the course, students will have grappled with the ongoing controversies that have arisen among scholars, governments, and lay people about the meaning (and meaninglessness) of the Holocaust for the postwar world. In a world in which extraordinary acts of violence continue to be perpetrated and more and more nations’ pasts are marked by episodes of extreme criminality and/or trauma, exploring the manner by which one such episode has been remembered, avenged, and adjudicated should prove relevant for future consideration of other societies’ efforts to confront their own traumatic pasts.
The Class: Format: tutorial; tutorial; class time consists of weekly one-hour sessions with the instructor and a fellow student
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 3534
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: every other week the student will write and present orally a 5- to 7-page paper on the assigned readings of that week; additional requirements on alternate weeks, the student will write a 2-page critique of the fellow student's paper; a final written exercise, a thought piece on the issues raised in the tutorial, will cap off the semester's work
Prerequisites: permission of instructor
Enrollment Preferences: History majors and Jewish Studies concentrators
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
JWST 490 Division II HIST 490 Division II
Attributes: HIST Group C Electives - Europe and Russia
JWST Capstone Course
JWST Core Electives

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