Undergraduate Courses

HUMA 3300: Reading and Writing Texts
Taught by Dr. Nils Roemer
This course highlights central issues in medieval, early modern and modern Jewish and general history through the lens of the Ghetto and its changing meaning. Course themes include the establishment of and liberation from the Ghetto, and the history of Eastern European Jewish urban centers in Europe and America. We will also examine the place of Ghettos in the Holocaust, as well as remembrance of the Ghetto after the Holocaust. Moreover, we will explore basic concepts of the humanities and interdisciplinary studies by discussion also literary and visual representations of the Ghetto in European and American literature and film.

HIST 4330: The Holocaust
Taught by Dr. Debbie Pfister
Between 1933 and 1945, the Third Reich swept across Europe declaring war on the Jewish communities in every country they occupied during their 12 year reign of terror. As they imposed their death sentence on millions of people by shooting, gassing, and starvation, the Nazis committed atrocities which challenge our ideas about the basic concepts of progress, enlightenment, morality, and freedom. These crimes confront the foundation of Western culture and continue to impact thought in the twenty first century.
Exploring the historical framework which gave rise to Nazism, it is the purpose of this class to examine the social, political, historical, and cultural contexts in which the Holocaust took place. Constructing our inquiry around two major questions: why did this mass murder happen and how did it run its course, we will study the development and background of ancient religious anti-Semitism, as well as the emergence of nationalism and scientific racism in nineteenth-century Europe. In addition, we will consider the emergence of the modern German state, the First World War, the Depression, Hitler’s creation of the Third Reich, the anti-Jewish laws, the persecution of the European Jews, the implementation of the Holocaust in every country occupied by the Reich, and the moral implications of the mass murder of this group of people. We will also study the ways in which the Holocaust has continued to affect our religious beliefs, our sense of morality, and our notions about government and education, now, and for future generations.

HIST 4331: The Holocaust and Representation
Taught by Dr. Debbie Pfister
The mass murder of European Jewry during the Holocaust has been recognized as one of the watershed events of the twentieth-century. Eliminating millions of people by shooting, gassing, and starvation, the Third Reich has created a new world, the like of which has not been experienced before. Its implementation of the Final Solution and the ways in which the Nazis carried out this death sentence for every Jew has affected our basic concepts of progress, enlightenment, morality, and freedom.
Exploring the social, political, historical, and cultural contexts of the Holocaust, the purpose of this course is to examine its depiction and representation in art, literature, poetry, and film. We will construct our inquiry around three major questions: why did this mass murder happen, how did it run its course, and how can we articulate the enormity and horror of this event in the various modes of artistic expression. Through this examination, will study the ways in which the Holocaust has continued to affect our religious beliefs, our sense of morality, and our notions of education and culture in the twenty-first century.

HIST 4344: The Holocaust and Nazi Medicine
Taught by Dr. Debbie Pfister
Beginning in 1934, under Nazi leadership, German physicians and scientists conducted some of the most gruesome medical experiments known to humankind. Initially conceived as a way to control national expenditures for the physically handicapped and mentally impaired, early sterilization programs were eventually replaced by euthanasia which served the Nazi program of eliminating “lives unworthy of life” from their population. In their attempt to build a genetically superior race, doctors, in service of the Reich, used human beings a guinea pigs, preying on the most innocent. Examining these unethical medical practices, this course will explore the path that took German medicine from being at the forefront of the modern medical profession in the 19th century to the horrors that were committed in the name of medical science during the Holocaust.
During the course of this analysis, we will discuss the relevant political and social issues of 19th and 20th century Germany, as well as the development of the eugenics movement and its ethical ramifications. In addition, we will examine the inhumane medical experiments conducted on countless innocent men, women, and children, as well as the 1946 Doctors’ Trials in Nuremberg in which twenty three doctors were tried for their roles in those atrocities. The Nuremberg Code, a set of ethical guidelines regarding human medical experimentation, was developed as a result of these proceedings with the hope of preventing such atrocities in the future.
The previously stellar reputation of German medicine has motivated some researchers to want use the data collected despite the unethical methods by which these experiments were conducted. This is a very controversial topic and has been the subject of much dispute within the medical and academic worlds. This class will participate in this debate, and discuss the ethical ramifications that are associated with the use of this data.

HIST 4344: The Weimar Republic
Taught by Dr. Nils Roemer
This course investigates the Weimar Republic from its birth amidst defeat and revolution to its demise in 1933. It discusses the artistic and intellectual culture of the Weimar Republic from an interdisciplinary perspective as an important period of transition and experimentation. Crisis and renewal affected almost every aspect of the fledgling Republic. Economic depression, political radicalism and social decline, as well as immense cultural creativity, new media and burgeoning consumer cultures marked the young Republic. The course will discuss literary texts, visual art, movies, theater plays, and musical compositions.

HIST 4349: Jewish History
Taught by Dr. Nils Roemer
In this course we will examine the profound transformation that Jews, as communities and individuals, experienced from the late eighteenth century to the postwar period. We will analyze and evaluate a broad range of primary texts and visual material, including several movies. We will explore political and ideological, as well as cultural and religious, developments. Central themes include the Jewish Enlightenment, the process of emancipation, religious reform, modern anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, Zionism, and the founding of the State of Israel. Lectures will concentrate on central themes and include slide and video presentations. This is an introduction to modern Jewish history, thought, and literature.

HIST 4339: Berlin: History of a City
Taught by Dr. Nils Roemer
Berlin is a quintessentially modern city. It was at once an important center of population, economic, and culture, as well as a place of exchange of goods, ideas, and peoples from across the world. The course will explore issues of industrialization, urban renewal and planning, space, class, and migration. Key factors we will look at are class, gender, ethnicity, consumer culture, crime, and the representation of the city in literature, art, and film. This course will moreover focus on the major events and conflicts that have left their mark on the city: the rise of the modern metropolis, economic depression and social unrest, the two World Wars, Nazism and the Holocaust, the Cold War and its aftermath.
The course aims to introduce you to exploring aspects of modern urban cultures and to study modern German history from the perspective of Berlin. You will investigate the experience of modernity through textual and visual sources.

HIST 4344: War and Atrocity in 20th Century Europe
Taught by Dr. Debbie Pfister
Marked by turmoil, twentieth-century Europe was consumed by unprecedented xenophobia and mass killings which decimated entire cultures and changed the face of the continent. As the evils of this century culminated in the destruction of the ideals of the Enlightenment, they set a new precedent for cruelty and barbarity in the modern period. Focusing on the Balkan Wars, the Armenian Genocide, the First World War, the rise of Stalinism, Nazism, and the Holocaust, this course will examine the ways in which these events emerged out of the dramatic social, scientific, political, and cultural changes and movements of the nineteenth-century. In addition, it will explore the rampant nationalism of the era which fostered extremist ideas that eventually became radicalized by murderous regimes, and ultimately, ended in chaos and the death of millions.

HIST 4344: Siberia and Auschwitz
Taught by Dr. Debbie Pfister
Siberia and Auschwitz have become synonymous with the most violent symbols of barbarity, cruelty, torture, and death in the modern period. While these sites represent the darkest side of humanity, at the same time, they also stand as testaments to human endurance and survival. By exploring the literature which emanated from the experiences of those sentenced to these places, this course will examine the random acts of courage as well as the constant threat of death, that every second of the day, held each prisoner of these systems in the balance. In addition, Siberia and Auschwitz will examine the foundations of the two totalitarian regimes who built their foundations on the basis of these locations which were dedicated to evil and atrocity, and ultimately, came to define a century.

HIST 4344: Liberalism in Weimar Germany
Taught by Dr. Debbie Pfister
Confronted with the traumatic losses of World War I, revolution, and a looming financial crisis, Germany was at a socio-political crossroads in 1918, which demanded change. In the midst of those final days of war, as German politicians tried to keep the country from exploding into chaos, a fledgling democracy emerged in Weimar that held the promise of a liberal transformation of German society. But as the country fought to find its way back to a place within the international community, it faced many obstacles, among them, the disgrace of defeat, harsh penalties under the peace treaties, the transition to a new form of government, exorbitant inflation, workers strikes, domestic terrorism, and the Depression. Considering the difficulties and tensions confronting Germany during the years of the Weimar Republic, this course will examine the ways in which the idea of liberalism emerged in that country during the post-Enlightenment era, along with the concept of the modern nation state. Moreover, we will analyze the rise, development, and evolution of this concept not only in Weimar, but also in other democratic countries of the time, and the reasons for its ultimate demise in Germany.
In addition, Liberalism in Weimar will explore the dramatic cultural changes taking place in Germany during the interwar period, considering the interplay among art, culture, politics, and propaganda in this new post-war environment and explain the tensions characterizing this period and the country’s eventual descent into Nazism.

HIST 4376: After the Holocaust
Taught by Dr. David Patterson
Taking an interdisciplinary approach to the Jewish condition after the annihilation of European Jewry, this course explores the issues and challenges facing the Jewish people in the aftermath of the Holocaust. It examines the history of the Jewish state, the standing of the Jewish people, debates concerning the future of Judaism, and the crises in Jewish identity, thought, and sense of purpose in the world after Auschwitz. Also to be considered are confrontations between Jews and Christians and post-Holocaust issues facing Christendom, since the annihilation of the Jews occurred in the heart of Christian Europe. The instructional format is lecture with substantial discussion.

HIST4376: America and the Holocaust
Taught by Dr. Debbie Pfister
The United States has a long tradition as the beacon of hope for the downtrodden, defender of the defenseless, and refuge for the oppressed. In recent years, that tradition has been heavily scrutinized as a result of the Nazis’ persecution of Europe’s Jewish populations between 1933 and 1945. As the scope of the Jewish plight became apparent, the American response became disjointed, confused, and impotent behind an enigmatic President, restrictive legislation, obstructionist bureaucrats, and a strangely silent press. The burning question still lingers today: Was America’s lack of response the result of an inept and poorly managed government or was it consistent with an undercurrent of anti-Semitism running throughout the American public and their government?
The purpose of this course is to examine, in detail, the extent and the rationales of the United States’ response to the events in Europe between 1933 and 1945. To do this, we must first understand what the US Government knew, when they knew it, and what they did with that knowledge. Students will explore the extent of racism and anti-Semitism in 20th Century America and how those feelings affected the press, the public, and politicians up to the highest level of Government. Using extensive readings, primary source documents from Government archives, personal diaries, and first-hand accounts, we will delve deeply into a tragedy that if not prevented, could have been mitigated by a US response consistent with our lofty ideals.

HIST 4376: The Holocaust and Its Aftermath
Taught by Dr. Debbie Pfister
Unique in its ferocity and scope, the Holocaust represents a period of unparalleled human tragedy which resulted in the decimation of the Jewish population of Europe between 1933 and 1945. In The Holocaust and its Aftermath we will examine this catastrophic event, with a focus on the history of anti-Semitism and its ultimate manifestation in genocide. Throughout this exploration, the course will consider the social, political, historical, and cultural ideas which eventually led to the Shoah, as well as the development of the modern state of Israel and the numerous problems survivors faced as they tried to leave Europe in the wake of the tragedy.
Enhancing this investigation will be a trip to the sights of the lost communities and concentration camps in Poland, in addition to research in the archives at Yad Vashem in Israel. Through this experience, students will be afforded a deeper understanding of this topic through direct contact with the sights of destruction, while learning about the struggles of the survivors to rebuild their lives against tight immigration quotas and nearly insurmountable odds.

HIST 4378: The Jewish Experience in America
Taught by Dr. Nils Roemer
The United States has often been described as an exceptionally hospitable place for Jews. We will explore the creation and evolution American Jewish culture and investigate the impact of successive waves of migration upon the making of American Jewry. We will study the process of cultural renewal and religious reform, assimilation, anti-Semitism, American Jewish responses to the Great Depression, the Holocaust, and the interaction between Israel and American Jewish communities in the postwar period. We will pursue these issues by investigating a variety of textual, visual, and audio sources. By studying the American Jewish experience, students will gain also an important insight into the making of American history.

LIT 3312: Nineteenth-Century European Novels
Taught by Dr. Zsuzsanna Ozsváth
This course will undertake an in-depth study of nineteenth-century fiction. It will examine some of this period’s landmark, representative texts and consider their aesthetic features as well as their revolutionary critique of the world in the realm of history, religion, morality, and politics. In addition, it will study the immense intellectual and emotional changes these works have invented and foretold about modernity.

LIT 3312: The Rise of the European Novel
Taught by Dr. Zsuzsanna Ozsváth
This course will undertake an in-depth study of nineteenth-century fiction. It will examine some of this period’s landmark, representative texts and consider their aesthetic features as well as their revolutionary critique of the world in the realm of history, religion, morality, sensibility, and politics. In addition, it will study the immense intellectual and emotional changes these works have invented and foretold about modernity.

LIT 3312: Narratives of Change
Taught by Dr. Zsuzsanna Ozsváth
This course will undertake an in-depth study of nineteenth-century fiction. It will examine some of this period’s landmark, representative texts and consider their aesthetic features as well as their revolutionary critique of the world in the realm of history, religion, morality, and politics. In addition, it will study the immense intellectual and emotional changes these works have invented and foretold about modernity.
Students will examine some of the landmark narratives of nineteenth century European fiction. They will discuss these texts’ aesthetic features as well as their critique of generally accepted social, moral, and scientific truths. In addition, they will write about the changes these narratives have projected.

LIT 3328: Ethics in Literature
Taught by Dr. Zsuzsanna Ozsváth
Central to this course is the study of a selection of landmark nineteenth-and twentieth-century literary texts that embody concepts and arguments springing from the realm of ethics. Noting that such concepts and arguments assume a crucial importance in the plot and structure of these works, we shall ask questions about the boundaries between the field of morality and aesthetics as well as about the relevance of ethical considerations in evaluating literature. Ultimately, we hope to gain a deeper understanding of the ways in which a work’s moral system and its aesthetic scheme can illuminate and enrich one another.
Students will be able to apply basic methodologies of interpreting literary text. They also will be able to describe the ethical implications of several philosophical concepts embedded in literary works by major nineteenth-and twentieth-century thinkers, writers, poets, and critics. In addition, they will be consider some of the basic questions about the relevance of ethical considerations in evaluating literature.

LIT 4329: Major Authors - Goethe, Schiller, & Thomas Mann
Taught by Dr. Zsuzsanna Ozsváth
This course will consider major representative works of three prominent German authors: Goethe, Schiller, and Thomas Mann. Each of these authors had been drawn to the political, scientific, and literary activities of his time; each composed pieces that summarized his age, and each believed in, and insisted upon, the moral and public significance of art. Studying the poetry and surpassing craft of Goethe and Schiller, we also shall consider these authors' reception of such movements as the European Enlightenment and Romanticism and discuss their views on the role of art and the artist in culture. Likewise, exploring some of the major texts by Mann, we shall recognize the political shifts and cultural changes which played themselves out in this writer's life time and study his concerns regarding the crisis of art. In addition, we shall consider the emotional, artistic, and intellectual parallels between Goethe and Schiller and to the links which Mann saw as marking his relationship to these two classical poets of the eighteenth century.
Students will consider some of the representative works of three major German authors: Goethe, Schiller, and Thomas Mann. In addition, they will analyze orally as well as in writing both Mann’s interpretation of Goethe and Schiller and his belief in these poets’ shaping significance for the development of German literature.

LIT 3343: European Romanticism
Taught by Dr. Zsuzsanna Ozsváth
One of the major intellectual concomitants of the French Revolution was the Romantic Movement, creating new sets of ideas and expressions in literature, music, and the arts, emphasizing irrational and subconscious forces, heretofore suppressed or disregarded by Europe’s traditional, hierarchical societies. Rebelling against the latter as well as against the ideas of the Enlightenment, the Romantic Movement emphasized the supremacy of feeling over reason, the intuitive, emotionally-determined process of creativity, folk spirit, artistic endeavors, the extremes of psychic life, and the mystical yearnings of the soul. The explosions this movement created had transformed the development of Western philosophy and art, preparing the ground for such new aesthetic ideas as “pure poetry” in the nineteenth century, atonal music and abstract painting in the twentieth.
The purpose of our course is to study the background and explore some of the major literary works inspired by and reflecting Romanticism, trace this movement’s salient ideas, and consider the structural innovations, spiritual changes, and the new aesthetic concepts it has produced.
Students will discuss the genesis of the Romantic Movement and its future impact on Western philosophy, literature, art, and music; in addition they will explore its concepts and themes through some of the major literary works of the period.

LIT 3344: European Realism and Naturalism
Taught by Dr. Zsuzsanna Ozsváth
Realism and Naturalism emerged among the major aesthetic movements in the field of literature and the arts in nineteenth-century Europe. Inspiring heretofore unimaginable visions, subject matters, and approaches, Realism aimed at a direct and objective depiction of reality, while Naturalism attempted to follow the principles and methods of natural sciences. Both movements wished to present life truthfully and accurately, rather than idealize or morally circumscribe the world. For the first time in literary history, the characters that appear in these fictional texts struggle with their own instinctual drives and obsessions, hereditary compulsions, elemental passions, and drinking habits. They often emerge as victims of their society, their oppressive environment, and the socioeconomic pressures amid which they live.
We will read novels, dramas, and short stories by some of the major authors of both literary movements, and discuss the aesthetic flowering as well as the social and psychological insights they have inspired.
Students will discuss the rise of Realism and Naturalism in nineteenth-century Europe as well as these movements’ future impact on Western philosophy, perception of science, literature, and the arts. In addition they will explore the major concepts and themes of this new vision of the world in the context of some of the major literary works of the period.

LIT 4344: The Modern Novel
Taught by Dr. Zsuzsanna Ozsváth
Central to this course is the study of the evolution of twentieth-century European fiction. We will examine some of the landmark, representative texts of the time not only for their literary features and poetic structures but also for their response to the tremendous earthquakes shaking the continent and their discoveries of new spheres of human consciousness and reality. Thus, we will pay attention to the radical changes taking place in the aesthetic, social, cultural, political and historical realms of the time so that the class may read the texts in light of the events and processes they embody, reflect, and criticize.
Students will consider and explore some of the new spheres of human consciousness manifested in the European literature of the twentieth century. In addition, they will discuss, describe, and write papers about the major philosophical responses to the changes shaking the continent.

LIT 4344: Novels from Joyce to Kundera
Taught by Dr. Zsuzsanna Ozsváth
Central to this course is the study of the evolution of twentieth-century European fiction. We will examine some of the landmark, representative texts of the time not only for their literary features and poetic structures but also for their response to the tremendous earthquakes shaking the continent and their discoveries of new spheres of human consciousness and reality. Thus, we will pay attention to the radical changes taking place in the aesthetic, social, cultural, political, and historical realms of the time so that the class may read the texts in light of the events and processes they embody, reflect, and criticize.

Last Updated: 1/8/2014