Spring 2014 - Graduate Course Description
Ozsvath, Zsuzsanna
Discipline and Number
HUSL 6378 Section: 501
T Time: 7:00 PM - 9:45 PM
Course Title:
Literature and the Holocaust


The constant pressure the Holocaust exerts on our contemporary world manifests itself in a variety of ways, among them, in persistent efforts to evoke, define, and explain this cataclysmic event and to incorporate it into our creative imagination. Besides ongoing evaluation and re-evaluation of the Shoah in the fields of historical research, moral philosophy, and social studies, there is a massive body of literature and art that has arisen in its wake, ranging from eyewitness accounts to novels, short stories, and poetry; from music to painting, sculpture, and film.

The purpose of this seminar is to consider the ways in which millions of people, men, women, and children, the newborn and the aged were shot, burned, gassed, and murdered and to study the wide-ranging approaches used by generations of historians, trying to understand what has happened during those 12 years of Nazi rule in Germany. At the same time, we will explore the ways in which artists have reacted to the events of the Shoah, and study the psychological, moral, and aesthetic tensions this unprecedented genocide has imposed upon our contemporary consciousness. In addition, we will asses the role the Holocaust plays in our late twentieth-century early twenty-first-century literary imagination. Therefore, we will consider a number of texts revolving around the Shoah and study not only their radically new aesthetic devices but also their portrayals of evil and moral survival. In addition, we will explore a wide-ranging set of critical responses the literature of the Holocaust has engendered.


J. Becker, Jacob the Liar
T. Borowski, The Way to the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen
P. Levi, Survival in Auschwitz
R. Hochhuth, The Deputy
M. Radnoti, In the Footsteps of Orpheus
J. Weil, Mendelssohn Is on the Roof
R. S. Wistrich, Hitler and the Holocaust

In addition, we will read poetry by Celan, Pagis, Radnóti, Mezei, and Sachs, stories by Ida Fink, excerpts of Kaplan’s Diary, essays and chapters by Omer Bartov, Berel Lang, Lawrence Langer, Z. Ozsvath, David Patterson, S. Friedlaender, and A. Rosenfeld.

There will also be the showing of one documentary and two movies: Shoah, Roundup, and Forbidden Games.

Suggested Course Materials

A bibliography will be provided on the website.

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

Grades will be based on regular class attendance, participation in class discussions, one class presentation, and one research paper (15-20 pages), which could be suitable for one of the portfolio essays.

All books for the course are available in the Campus Book Store as well as in the Off Campus Books.

Schedule of Classes:

January 14: 2014: Discussion and Viewing of the movie SHOAH

21: * H. H. Harwig, Hammer or Anvil, 267-310.
* S. Friedlaender, Nazi Germany and the Jews, 374-422.
* A. Rosenfeld, A Double Dying, 3-61.

28: Becker, Jacob the Liar.

Febr. 4: *Yehuda Bauer, Rethinking the Holocaust, 39-67; Borowski, This Way to the Gas,Ladies and Gentlemen.

11: P. Levi, Survival in Auschwitz

18: Shoah (documentary); Round-Up (movie)

25: *Poetry of Paul Celan, "Nearness of Graves," The Lonely One," "Black Flakes," "Aspen Tree," Deathfugue," "Wolfsbean," "Speech on the Occasion of Receiving the Literature Prize of the Free Hansaetic City of Bremen," and "Tenebrae.

March 4: *Nelli Sachs, "O The Night of the Weeping Children," "What Secret Cravings of the Blood," "Landscape of Screams," and "Chorus of the Rescued."

*Andras Mezei, Christmas in Auschwitz: "Robbery, Naked," "Friday Evening," "A Choice," "A Chorus of Pious Souls."

*Miklos Radnoti, "And Cain Spoke unto Abel His Brother," "Like a Bull," "War Diary," "Just Walk On, Condemned to Die," "Foamy Sky."

11: Spring Break

18: Radnoti, In the Footsteps of Orpheus (1-138); "Neither Memory nor Magic," "A la recherche. . ." "Forced March," and "Razglednicas."

25: Radnoti, In the Footsteps of Orpheus (139-220).

April 1: Forbidden Games (film); L. Langer, "Preempting the Holocaust."

8: Hochhuth, The Deputy

15: Religious Holiday

22: Schwartz-Bart, The Last of the Judge

29: Discussion


Grades will be based on regular class attendance, participation in class discussions, one class presentation, and one research paper (15-20 pages), which could be suitable for one of the portfolio essays.

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