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HIST 490
Memory, History, and the Extermination of the Jews of Europe Spring 2021
Division II Writing Skills
Cross-listed HIST 490 / JWST 490

Class Details

This course is about the postwar legacy of the Holocaust. Nazi Germany’s extermination of European Jews has come to be a moral and cultural touchstone for people in Europe and in many other parts of the world. This tutorial explores a series of topics from the immediate aftermath of the Second World War to the present. Engaging with a wide-range of sources, we will wrestle with historical, legal, moral, political, and cultural issues and debates that have emerged out of the confrontation with the extermination of the Jews of Europe. They include: Why was the Holocaust “unprecedented” and “unimaginable”? Is it a Jewish story or universal story? Does the Holocaust raise different issues than other historical events for the historian? How should the Holocaust be represented in words and images, and what are the implications of different means of representing it? 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? What “lessons” have we learned and should we learn from the Holocaust? By the end of the course, students will have grappled with the ongoing controversies that have arisen among scholars, artists, governments, and lay people about the meaning of the Holocaust for the postwar world. In a world in which extraordinary acts of violence continue to be perpetrated and many 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 has relevance for considering 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#: 4361
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
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:
HIST 490 Division II JWST 490 Division II
WS Notes: Bi-weekly 5- to 7-page- papers. Students will receive regular and individualized feedback on their writing to help them work on different writing issues throughout the semester.
Attributes: HIST Group C Electives - Europe and Russia
JWST Capstone Course
JWST Core Electives

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