Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue
Unfinished Business: Trauma, Cultural Memory and the Holocaust
The objectives of this module are to consider the continuing significance of the events known as the Holocaust or Shoah as they enter representation. The module will consider testimony and oral archives of survivors' witness, current moves to create Holocaust museums, artistic projects of memorialisation and counter-memory, autobiographical narratives and films, psychotherapeutic work with the generations of survivors' children. Cinematic attempts to respond to the Holocaust will also be studied. These voices, words and images pose the question of what it is that is struggling into or out of representation and what is means for everyone living in the shadow of this major event in western modernity.
Studying films, autobiographies, visual art and archives of oral testimony, the course will address a range of debates in literary, historiographical and psychological theory about the ways in which survivors live after and with trauma of the Holocaust, the ways in which witnesses provide testimony, and the ways in which the legacy of a historical trauma of the magnitude of the Holocaust is currently being represented by historians, sociologists, writers, artists and museums. Thus the students will be introduced to the debates about Holocaust and 'the limits of representation' (Saul Friedlander), for instance, by comparing Schindler's List with Claude Lanzmann's Shoah. Autobiographies of survivors from many different countries and situations will be studied (Bauman, Kofman, Perec, Levi). The issues of witness and the process of testimony will be addressed through the work of the Yale Archive (Laub, Primo Levi). Aspects of contemporary moves to memorialisation in art and through museums devoted to Holocaust commemoration and education will be analysed (Young and Rogoff). There will be a section on psychoanalytic perspectives on the transmission of trauma to the children of survivors (Wardi). Rather than an historical study of the events 1933-45, this module will enable students to consider the continuing significance of these events in the larger context of European history through close attention to the voices and images of those who continue to live with a trauma that only work - psychological, analytical, creative - can turn into memory which then the cultures of Europe as a whole must themselves take on as the history that continues to shape our present responses to all forms of racism, genocide and violence against the stranger.
Form of teaching
Seminars: 11 x 2 hours
Form of assessment
Essay x 6,000 word essay at the end of the semester.
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