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C LIT 318 A: Literature and the Holocaust

Meeting Time: 
TTh 11:30am - 1:20pm
SAV 132
Joint Sections: 
NEAR E 318 A
Sokoloff photo
Naomi Sokoloff

Syllabus Description:

NEAR E 318 – C LIT 318

Please note: students may sign up for this course under either prefix - NEAR E or C LIT.  It is the same course! If you have any questions about how the credits may count toward a major or minor in NELC or CLCM, please speak with the advisors, Gabe Skoog ( and Nancy Sisko (




Winter 2020

5 credits 


T/Th 11:30-1:20


Professor Naomi Sokoloff

Office Hours: Wednesday 10:30-12:00 or by appointment

Office: Denny 220C

Phone: 206-543-7145



By examining fiction, poetry, memoirs, diaries, monuments, commix, and other aspects of popular culture, this course will explore literary responses to the Nazi Holocaust. How has literature imagined and reacted to the persecution of Jews and other marginalized groups – including Gypsies, homosexuals, and people with disabilities? Among the topics to be covered: bearing witness and survivor testimony; the shaping of collective memory; the second generation; Holocaust education and children's literature; gender and the Holocaust; fantasy and humor in representations of catastrophe.

Students may opt to take this as a W course by completing additional writing assignments. Revision, editing, and reworking of essay assignments is an integral part of a W course.

Any student in this course who wishes to read some texts in Hebrew may contact the instructor and make arrangements to register for an additional 2-3 credits of  independent study (MODHEB 490 or MODHEB 600).


Required Texts


Jane Yolen, Briar Rose

Art Spiegelman, Maus I and Maus II

Doris Bergen, War and Genocide


Some materials, including poems and lecture notes, will be available at the course website:

Course Requirements

Students are expected to complete the reading assignments on time, to participate in class discussion, and to hand in brief writing assignments (homework or in-class exercises) on a regular basis. There will be two in-class tests (no final exam) and one paper (1250-1500 words; 5-7 pages), and there will be opportunities for earning extra credit (adding a maximum of .1 to the final grade).

Final grades will be determined as follows:

  • Essay: 40%
  • Test 1: 15%
  • Test 2: 15%
  • Homework, in-class writing, and quizzes: 30%


Dates to keep in mind:

January 30 - Guest Speaker: Charlotte Wolheim

February 18 - Guest Speaker: Denise Grollmus


Grading Scale

 4.0  = 97-100

3.9   = 95-96

3.8  = 93-94

3.7 =  92

3.6 = 91

3.5 = 90

3.4 = 89




If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Student Services, 448 Schmitz, 206-543-8924.  If you have a letter from Disabled Student Services indicating you have a disability that requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to the instructor and discuss the accommodations you might need for the class.

In cases of academic misconduct, such as plagiarism or receiving inappropriate assistance on an assignment, offending students will be penalized in accordance with the policy of the College of Arts and Sciences. If you are unsure what constitutes plagiarism or how to properly attribute credit to source materials, consult with the instructor.

At times it may be useful to access the internet during discussion, but please turn off any distracting electronic devices when in class (such as cell phone ringers).

 Please keep a copy of all graded work. This is very useful in case the instructor’s record of grades is lost or damaged, or in case the student wishes to discuss a grade.  Protect yourself by keeping a copy.

For additional guidelines on academic integrity, Incompletes, grade appeal, concerns about an instructor, equal opportunity, disability accommodations, absences due to religious observances, sexual harassment, and safety, see the homepage of our course website and the following link:



Attendance and class participation are important to the learning process. However, if you have symptoms of contagious illness – such as sniffles, sneezes, a cough, a sore throat, or a fever – please do not come to class. We will figure out a way to cover the material so that your learning and your grades will not suffer. 


It is important that we take care of ourselves inside and outside of class by learning how to care for our body, mind and spirit. Toward that end, there are many different kinds of support services on campus, including the Counseling Center, Hall Health, and the IMA. If you are concerned about yourself or a friend who is struggling, Safecampus, at 1-800-685-7233, is a very helpful resources to learn more about how to access campus-based support services. Please save the number for Safecampus, 1-800-685-7233, into your cell phones.


Weekly Schedule:


Unit I: Introducton- The Shaping of Collective Memory


January 7

Dan Pagis, poems


 January 9

Zelda, “Every Man Has a Name” (in the powerpoint)

James Young, The Texture of Memory, pp. 335-349


Unit II: Diaries and the Reception of Anne Frank 

January 14

Anne Frank – Diary of a Young Girl, selections

    June 12, 1942-June 15, 1942

    July 8, 1942 - July 11, 1942

Bergen, ch. 1 & 2


January 16

Anne Frank, continued

   Jan. 2, 1944

   Jan. 7, 1944

   March 6, 1944

   April 11, 1944

   August 1, 1944

Scenes from: “The Diary of Anne Frank” (1959 film)


Unit III: Literature of the Holocaust


 January 21


Avraham Sutzkever, "I Lie in this Coffini" and "To My Child"

 Hirsh Glik, “Never Say” (Hymn of the Partisans)

Painters of Terezin 

Bergen, ch. 3


January 23

Jankiel Wiernik, “One Year in Treblinka” (an excerpt from Lawrence Langer's anthology, Art from the Ashes)



 Unit IV: Bearing Witness: Memoir, Fiction, Documentary

 January 28


Primo Levi, Excerpt from “The Gray Zone” (The Drowned and the Saved)


Charlotte Delbo, “Voices”

Bergen, ch. 4


January 30

GUEST SPEAKER - Charlotte Wolheim


February 4

Film clips: “Shoah”

Jonathan Littell, The Kindly Ones, pp. 3-24

 Bergen, ch. 5



Unit V: Roma/Sinti


February 6

"Gypsy" testimonies

Bergen, ch. 6-7

Review for Test 1




Unit VI: Gender


February 11

Martin Sherman, excerpt from "Bent" 


February 13

 Aharon Appelfeld, excerpt from Tzili


Bergen, ch. 8


Unit VII: Surviving Generations

February 18

Erika Dreifus, “Mishpocha”

Etgar Keret, “Shoes”

David Bezmogis, “An Animal to the Memory”




February 20

Thane Rosenbaum, “Cattle Car Complex”

David Grossman, See Under: Love  - Excerpts from  “Momik”


Unit VIII: Children's Literature

February 25 

Jane Yolen, Briar Rose


Unit IX: Humor  and the Fantastic in Representation of the Holocaust

February 27

Film: “Life is Beautiful”


March 3

Bergen - Conclusion

Review for Test #2


Essay workshop




Unit X: Art and History

March 5

Art Spiegelman, Maus I


March 10

Maus II








Catalog Description: 
Examines fiction, poetry, memoir, diaries, monuments, film, and pop culture from several languages and cultural milieus, with emphases on English and Hebrew. Topics include survivor testimony, shaping of collective memory, the second generation, Holocaust education and children's literature, gender and the Holocaust, and fantasy and humor as responses to catastrophe. May not be taken for credit if credit earned in NEAR E 441. Offered: jointly with NEAR E 318.
GE Requirements Met: 
Diversity (DIV)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
October 14, 2019 - 9:12pm