SPRINGFIELD, Ohio - Two faculty members of Wittenberg University used their summer breaks to study about the Holocaust and are now sharing their knowledge with students.
Assistant Professor of English Lauren Proll traveled to Washington, D.C. this summer to complete a two-week seminar on literature and the Holocaust conducted by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies for college and university faculty. Admittance into the program was highly selective - participation was limited to 20 attendees.
Professor of Religion Rochelle L. Millen was one of 16 participants in a different seminar sponsored by the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies in the summer of 2001. Called "Ethics after the Holocaust," the seminar was led by noted philosophers John K. Roth and Irving Greenberg. It focused on the lasting philosophical and theological questions arising from the events of 1933-1945. Millen also studied at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem in 1991 in a four-week seminar titled "Teaching the Holocaust and Anti-Semitism."
Wittenberg students are benefiting from their expanded knowledge with a new semester-long course titled "Reflections on the Holocaust: Literature and Ethics."
"Some of the most important and moving accounts of the concentration camps have come to us through literary, as opposed to documentary or historical, narratives," Proll said. "We get a new perspective on the Holocaust when we view it through literature; in doing so, we also gain a new perspective on literature itself and its ethical dimensions and implications."
The seminar Proll attended provided an in-depth examination of Holocaust literature, both fiction and non-fiction, and how it can be used in Holocaust education. Participants explored how history and memory are represented in literature; the relationship between oral testimony and literature; and the potentially therapeutic value of using literature to confront the emotional trauma left behind following the genocide. Pre-eminent scholars in the field of Holocaust literature served as seminar leaders.
In the seminar attended by Millen, theological, philosophical and literary texts were explored. Participants examined what it means to be a Christian in a post-Holocaust world; a Jew; an ethical person? Also explored was the question of whether or not Western ethics are at a dead end after Auschwitz.
"The ethical aspects of our course focus on many issues and how those issues are intertwined with and articulated in the literature of the Holocaust," Millen said.
"We are dealing with the history of anti-Semitism; the roles of perpetrators, bystanders, and rescuers/resisters; the nature and impact of being a victim; historical institutional and individual evil; second-generation; and legacies of the Holocaust," Millen added.
The Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies was established in 1998 to promote the growth of the field of Holocaust studies and ensure the training of future generations of scholars specializing in the Holocaust.
"Literature plays an increasingly important role in helping college students understand the Holocaust," said Paul Shapiro, director of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. "Participants in this seminar represent the leading edge of American scholarship and teaching on the Holocaust through literature."
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is America's national institution for the documentation, study and interpretation of Holocaust history, and serves as this country's memorial to the millions of people murdered during the Holocaust. Since opening in April 1993, the museum has welcomed more than 19 million visitors. The Museum's primary mission is to advance and disseminate knowledge about this unprecedented tragedy; to preserve the memory of those who suffered; and to encourage its visitors to reflect upon the moral questions raised by the events of the Holocaust as well as their own responsibilities as citizens of a democracy.
For more information about the Holocaust Memorial Museum and/or the seminar, contact Andy Hollinger at (202) 488-6133 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the new course at Wittenberg, contact Proll at (937) 327-7054 or Millen at (937) 327-7404.
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