German 59: Holocaust in Film and Literature

Instructor: Todd Presner

This course approaches the Holocaust by examining the challenges encountered in trying to imagine and understand it through literature, film, and a wide range of primary historical sources. We will read and look at some of the most significant literary, historical, filmic, and philosophical representations of the Holocaust, including those by Elie Wiesel, Renee Firestone, Hannah Arendt, Art Spiegelman, Paul Celan, Steven Spielberg, and Claude Lanzmann. The course will treat a broad range of issues such as the politics of memory, the value of testimony, and the ethics of representation. While the course focuses primarily on post-War representations of the Holocaust, we will also confront a substantial body of contemporaneous source materials, including speeches, legal documents, diaries, photographs, films, and other artifacts that allow us to trace the rise of fascism, examine the genesis of the ‘Final Solution,’ follow the actions of the perpetrators, and hear the voices of victims during and after the Holocaust. Taught in English.