Society, Difference and Diversity. Transcultural Configurations of the Holocaust in American Culture

2nd year M.A. program in American studies

Spring 2018

Instructor: Dana Mihailescu (


This course means to investigate the transcultural dimensions at the basis of Holocaust representation in American culture (literature, testimony, television, film) in light of transcultural (memory) studies approaches in order to see how they have shaped the understanding of the Holocaust in the U.S. and abroad over time. This level of investigation hopes to foster students’ development of comparative grids of analysis and their critical awareness of how border-crossings and the porousness of national borders involve positive and negative exchanges that have led to constructive or nefarious outcomes for the lives of individuals both during the Holocaust and in its aftermath, until contemporary times.  

  1. Introduction
  2. Theories of Transcultural Memory and the Holocaust

Readings: Astrid Erll. “Traveling Memory.” Parallax 17.4 (2011): 4-18.

Lucy Bond, Stef Craps and Pieter Vermeulen. “Introduction. Memory on the Move.” Memory Unbound. New York: Berghahn Books, 2016. 1-26.

Michael Rothberg. “The Witness as ‘World’ Traveler. Multidirectional Memory and Holocaust Internationalism before Human Rights.” Probing the Ethics of Holocaust Culture. Eds. Claudio Fogu et al. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016. 355-372.

  1. The Evolution of Iconic Transcultural Representations of the Holocaust in American Culture: From Anne Frank’s Diary to Schindler’s List and Beyond

Readings: Hilene Flanzbaum. “The Americanization of the Holocaust.” Journal of Genocide Research 1.1 (1999): 91-104.

Alvin Rosenfeld. “Popular Culture and the Politics of Memory” and “The Americanization of the Holocaust.” The End of the Holocaust. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011. 14-32; 51-94.

Mark Anderson. “The Child Victim as Witness to the Holocaust: An American Story?.” Jewish Social Studies: History, Culture, Society 14.1 (Fall 2007): 1-22.

  1. The Holocaust, Literature and Transcultural Networks

Readings: Cynthia Ozick, “The Shawl” (1980); Lara Vapnyar, “There Are Jews in My House.” There Are Jews in My House. Stories. NY: Anchor, 2004. 3-50. 

  1. The Holocaust, Comics/Graphic Narratives and Transcultural Networks

Readings: “The Spirit. The Tale of the Dictator’s Reform” by Will Eisner (22 June 1941); “Master Race” by Bernie Krigstein and Al Feldstein (1955); “In Plain Sight” by Miriam Katin (2007); “Yahrzeit” by Leela Corman (2013)

  1. The Holocaust, Testimonies and Transcultural Networks: The Input of Testimonies from Main Institutions for the preservation of Holocaust memory (Fortunoff, Shoah, etc.)

Readings: Gerald Markle et al. “From Auschwitz to Americana: Texts of the Holocaust.” Sociological Focus 25.3 (August 1992): 179-202.

Aleida Assmann, “History, Memory, and the Genre of Testimony.” Poetics Today 27.2 (2006): 261-273.

  1. The Holocaust, Testimonies and Transcultural Networks: The Input of New Media Practices and Artist-Made Video Testimonies. [Show 3D Testimonies of Shoah Foundation, Fragments of a Life video testimony]

Readings: Noah Shenker. “Introduction. Testimonial Literacy.” Reframing Holocaust Testimony. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015. 1-18.

Jeffrey Shandler. “Narrative. Tales Retold” [Mass-media, Celebrity input] and “Conclusion.” Holocaust Memory in the Digital Age. Survivors’ Stories and New Media Practices. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2017. 43-85; 167-174.

  1. The Holocaust, Television and Transcultural Networks. On The Holocaust Miniseries

Readings: Jeffrey Shandler. “The Big Event.” While America Watches. Televising the Holocaust. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. 155-178.

Alison Landsberg. “Waking the Past: The Historically Conscious Television Drama.” Engaging the Past. Mass Culture and the Production of Historical Knowledge. New York: Columbia University Press, 2015. 61-110. (SEE ALSO “Introduction,” 1-24)

Judith Keilbach. “Re-versioning History: National Narratives, Global Television and the Re-versioning of Holocaust/Hitler’s Holocaust.” Image & Narrative 18.1 (2017): 80-96.

  1. The Holocaust, Films and Transcultural Networks: From 1940s Productions like The Great Dictator (1940) to Schindler’s List (1993) and Beyond

Readings: Lawrence Baron. “The First Wave of American Holocaust Films, 1945-1959.” The American Historical Review 115.1 (2010): 90-114.

Cristoph Classen. “Balanced Truth: Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List among History, Memory and Popular Culture.” History and Theory 47 (May 2009): 77-102.

10.  Final exam



Requirements and grade assessment:

Students are expected to constantly take part in class discussions and to read the texts on a weekly basis. They are to present 2 texts on the reading list and take one final written exam.


Grade breakdown:

Presentations + class participation: 1/2 of final grade

Final exam: 1/2 of final grade









Pagină actualizată la 14 Ianuarie 2018.