FAITH AFTER THE HOLOCAUST

Rel 232 B Spring 2009
11:00 AM -12:20 PM TuTh
Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus Knapton 102 x3694

The death of 6 million Jews at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators in the Second World War represents a radical challenge to faith in Judaism, in Christianity and in Western Humanism. Where was the God of the Jews? Where was Christian love? Where was the humanity of the Nazis who destroyed innocent life and where was the humanity of the onlookers who did nothing to stop the Nazis? On the other hand, how do we explain the heroic acts of the few that defied the Nazis and rescued Jews? And how do we explain the faith of many Holocaust survivors? Thre are just some of the questions we will explore in this course.

We will begin with a historical overview of the Holocaust and then use literature of Holocaust survivors to articulate the challenge of the Holocaust to faith. We will then review philosophical and theological responses to this challenge by Jewish and Christian authors. We will conclude with a discussion of the implications of the Holocause for Western culture.

Because the questions which this course explores are highly varied and defy simple answers, we will use a variety of disciplines, texts and media. We will employ historical, sociological, literary, and religious analyses. We will view a variety of kinds of films and have a number of outside experts come to speak to us.

Required Texts:

Yehuda Bauer, A History of the Holocaust
John Roth and Michael Berenbaum, Eds., Holocaust: Religious and Philosophical Implications
Yaffa Eliach, Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust
Aharon Applefeld, Badenheim 1939
Elie Wiesel, Night
Tadeusz Borowski, This Way for the Gas Ladies and Gentlemen
Richard Rubinstein, The Cunning of History

Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay


Reading Packet (RP) to be sold in class.

Requirements and Grading (N.B.: This course is Writing Intensive)

1) Class participation There will be class discussions nearly each session based on the movies, readings, student response papers, and student presentations. Attendence and participation in class discussions are a crucial part of the course. For every 3 unexcused absences after the 1st week of class, students will be penalized 2/3 grade (e.g. from A- to B) off their final course grade. In addition, an electronic discussion has been set up on Blackboard for this course to which students may contribute. This on-line discussion group is intended to be forum for students to continue discussions begun in class, and to raise questions prior to in-class discussion. Also, pay attention to and for general communications, syllabus updates, etc. between class members and the professor.

2) 1-page response paper assignments (20%)
Ten 1- page written responses to readings or video due no later than the Monday or Wednesday night before the class presentation. Post them on the electronic discussion on our Rel 232 Blackboard site. You are exempt from this paper the week of your presentation.

3) Class Presentation (10%)
Each of you will be responsible for leading a class discussion on the weekly reading (s) and/or one of the films we see. Thus, two-three students will lead discussions on each Thursday (or sometimes Tuesday) from 2/10 - 4/28. You will need to choose your date to present by Thursday 2/5. To get full credit for your presentation you must:
a. Meet with me before your presentation to discuss it!
b. Read and comment on the other student response papers (as per guidelines I'll give you)
c. Make a 5-10 minute presentation (as per guidelines I'll give you) that


You may choose to use handouts, visual aids, or whatever else you think might help make your points. Your grade will be based on how well you meet the criteria in "c." and the guidelines I give you. Your final paper will be on the same topic/film you choose for your presentation.
N.B.: You do not have to hand in a response paper on the film (or book) you present.

4) Midterm Exam on the History of the Holocaust (20%) 2/24

5) Two Papers (50%)

a. One literary analysis 5-6 typed pages due 3/24- 20% (first draft due 3/17)
b. One critical essay 6-8 typed pages, and bibliography (connected to the topic you presented) 30%. This assignment has 3 parts
1. Library assignment: Find 5 articles, 5 books that significantly illuminate that issues raised by the movie or reading(s) you've chosen to present. Look for books or articles that discuss how the events depicted in the reading or movie point to broader historical, sociological, cultural, psychological, religious, political, literary, and/or scientific issues and trends (or vice versa). Make annotated bibliography in proper MLA bibl. form (Use Hacker, A Pocket Style Manual, s.27b (pp. 91-95, 97-98 to check for correct format. Don't forget to put your movie in the bibliography - if you're presenting and writing on one. Draft due April 23 (but prepare it sooner if your presentation is earlier)
2. First draft due April 23
3.
Final draft due May 1 (Fri)

Creative projects such as research papers, interviews with survivors, and original art work can be submitted in lieu of one of the course papers, though you must first consult with the professor, and still hand in 2-3 page description and assessment of your project, and the bibliography.

 

Syllabus

INTRODUCTION

1/22 Definition of "Faith"; Syllabus; Requirements
Film: "Night and Fog

1/27 John Roth and Michael Berenbaum, Eds. Holocaust
Prologue

1/29 Yehuda Bauer, "The Place of the Holocaust in Contemporary History" in Roth and Berenbaum Holocaust
Due W 1/30: 1 page reflection paper on "Night and Fog" and this course

A. HISTORY OF THE HOLOCAUST -- How did it happen, Why the Jews?

2/3 Historical Background: The Jews and Anti-Judaism
Read: Bauer, History of Holocaust ch. 1 RP:A New Testament passages

2/5 Modern Anti-Semitism
Bauer ch. 2 pp. 27-48 (36-57), RP:C Marr, Duehring and Protocols, Hitler
German Nationalism, WW I, Weimar
Bauer, ch. 3 pp. 53-62 (61-66); ch. 4

2/10 Nazi Germany
Film: "The Triumph of the Will;" Bauer, ch. 5
Bauer, ch. 6 p. 133-137 (142-146)  RP:D Mosse: "Nazi Culture"
1st Presentation:

2/12 WWII and the Holocaust
Bauer, ch. 7 pp. 139-152 (147-160)

2/17 The Ghettos and the Final Solution
Hilberg in Holocaust pp. 116-135 Bauer, ch. 9
Film: "Wannsee Conference"

2/19 The SS Mind RP:E Himmler, Hoess
Resistance Bauer, ch. 11
Read also ch. 12
2nd Presentation:

2/24 The Politics of Rescue
Bauer, ch. 13 pp. 303-32 (332-365); ch. 1  MIDTERM EXAM on the History of The Holocaust


B. THE LITERATURE OF THE HOLOCAUST

2/26-3/3 Appelfeld, Badenheim 1939
3rd Presentation:

3/5 Borowski, This Way for the Gas
4th Presentation:


3/9-13 SPRING BREAK -- No Class

 

C. THE CHALLENGE OF THE HOLOCAUST TO JUDAISM

3/17 Wiesel, Night

3/19 Film: "Kitty: Return to Auschwitz: 90 minutes

3/24 FIRST PAPER DUE

3/26 Eliach, Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust
5th Presentation:

3/31 Rubenstein in Holocaust pp. 227-91

4/2 Rubinstein-Wiesel, Exchange pp. 349-71
Greenberg in Holocaust pp. 305-49
6th Presentation:

D. CHALLENGE OF THE HOLOCAUST TO CHRISTIANITY

4/7 Film: "Shadow on the Cross" RP:B Ruether
Draft of annotated Bibliography for presentation/2nd paper due

4/9 NO CLASS - PASSOVER

[Apr 9-Apr. 16 PASSOVER; 1ST, 2ND SEDER Apr 8,9]

4/14 RP:F John Pawlikowski, "The Teaching of Contempt"
RP:G Alice and Roy Eckardt, "Long Night's Journey"
7th Presentation:

E. RESCUERS AND ALTRUISM

4/17 RP:I Pierre Sauvage "Learning Hope from the Holocaust"
Film: "Weapons of the Spirit"

4/20 (M) Monday Yom Ha-Shoah


4/21 RP:H "The Rescue of Denmark's Jews"
RP:J Nechama Tec, "Altruism During World War II"
RP:K Oliner and Oliner, "Rescuers of Jews"
8th Presentation:

F. THE CHALLENGE AND IMPLICATIONS FOR WESTERN CULTURE; WOMEN IN THE HOLOCAUST

4/23 First draft of 2nd paper due

4/28 Rubenstein, The Cunning of History: Rittner and Roth, Different Voices: Women in the Holocaust (pp. TBA, on EReserve)
9th Presentation:

4/30 Guest Speaker - Holocaust Survivor (or date TBA)
Summation

Final PAPER DUE NO EXAM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Content by Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus, Professor of Religion

Last Update 1/13/09