Semester Two 2012
Representing Evil: The Holocaust and its Legacy
This course examines anti-Semitism, the rise of Nazism in the 1920s and 1930s, and the "Final Solution" of Auschwitz, along with subsequent attempts to explain, represent and come to terms with this "collapse of civilization". It studies literary texts, films and testimonies from Germany, France, Russia and Eastern Europe.
The systematic mass killings at Auschwitz are a defining moment of twentieth-century history and culture. To study the camps is not just to see one of the world’s deepest abysses of racism; it is to understand the historical and sociological fabric of that racism and to reflect on its disturbing modernity. In this course we will study the specific background of German anti-Semitism in particular but also the intellectual roots of anti-Semitism and Racism in other European countries. We will look at the Nazi system of domination, with particular emphasis on how “peacetime” Nazism shaped the lives of citizens. This is followed by an examination of the system of terror and extermination with particular emphasis on the concentration camps in Eastern Europe. We will also look at the case of France during German occupation and the consequences of German occupation and the actions of the co-operating Vichy Regime for the Jews.
The political legacies and theoretical questions that follow on from the Holocaust itself are still disturbing today: how is it possible to adequately or respectfully depict, represent, or memorialise Auschwitz? How did German society frame its responsibility for or relation to the events? Another example of the problematic issue of “coming to terms with the past” is Russia. Disturbing questions relate to the silence about the Holocaust in the Soviet Union and Stalin’s war against the Jews.
As a more recent example of a literary text, which deals with the ambiguities of the memorialisation of Auschwitz in German literature, we will study the short novel by Bernhard Schlink "The Reader".
Note: The 200 and 300-level courses are taught together. The assessments are different in terms of length of essays and essay topics.
At the end of the course students should be able to
• critically appraise various facets of Antisemitism and Racism in mainly the European
• evaluate some aspects of the Holocaust such as relevant facts about Jews, Antisemitism,
Nazism, and the machinery of extermination, and explain differences in the anti-Jewish and
extermination policies and co-operation with the Nazis in the European countries during the
• synthesise and critically evaluate theories, or ways of looking at, portraying or using
• formulate conclusions on the issues of remembering the Holocaust by analysing examples
of “Holocaust or Memory literature” (fictional or autobiographical).
Any 30 points at 200-level
EULC203, FREN216, FREN316, GRMN245, GRMN346, RUSS221, RUSS321
4 response papers (350-400 words each)
Essay 1 (1,700 words)
Essay 2 (2,000 words)
The full Course Outline is available on LEARN (only for students enrolled in this course).
For further information see
School of Languages and Cultures.
All EULC303 Occurrences
Semester Two 2012