English 1-2 : Literature of the Holocaust Syllabus Fall 2015

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English 1-2 : Literature of the Holocaust


Fall 2015



Alana Jevert-Glover


General Information

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” -George Santayana

The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke


This course provides a study of the Holocaust through a variety of genres in order to gain a better understanding of a significant event in world history.  Students will study the origins and development of the Holocaust and its political, cultural, economic, and social implications through the lens of a variety of writers. This term will focus on a number of literary works from different genres (memoir, graphic novel, poetry, drama, legend, short story, and novel) and periods (from those written before the Holocaust to those written during the event and after).  Through discussion, group work, writing, and research-based projects, we’ll investigate both traditional and more unconventional methods of approaching literature.  Terminology common in literary analysis will be discussed and used and we’ll consider the treatment of several themes present in Holocaust literature.  Vocabulary skills, research skills, public speaking, various forms of composition, as well as technology are integrated into the course. In order to prepare students for the college setting, knowledgeable discourse of the subject matter will be required. A formal, documented research essay, and a literary work sample are required assignments.

Expectations and Goals

To understand the present, we must explore the past. This course is a chance to explore the ideas, philosophies, and cultures from bygone eras so that we might benefit from the success and failures of the people who endured them. Of the best ways to do this is to examine the literature of those people, a direct reflection on time and events in whatever period the text was written. The process of analyzing ideas and different points of view will expand our thinking on the issues the various authors raise.

In dealing with the stories and art of other cultures and times, students in this course will be confronted with issues that may not conform to their own value systems. Likewise, a comparative approach to attitudes and beliefs of ancient cultures may introduce perspectives different than one’s own. I expect students to handle themselves with maturity, as expected from a college-bound individual. Our texts are standard for high school and college prep courses.

It is our aim to teach you to express your thoughts, impressions, and opinions so that they can be understood by the average reader. You will be expected to write cogent essays that are well-developed and express the validity of your thoughts. As you study literature, the awareness should strike you that there are many “right” answers to the issues discussed.

It is also important to assess a work’s artistic merit. It is important to remember that it is possible to recognize the artistry with which something is written without personally “liking” it. It is also important to recognize various literary forms, and how authors use various literary devices to tell a story. As a result, you should come to understand literature, its artistry and craft.

Course Materials

Required Materials

Students need to bring his/her materials to class every day. This includes novels checked out to the student and course reading materials.

“Journal-style” notebook

English folder/binder

Loose-leaf paper


Daily planner/calendar

Additional materials for projects as needed.


Night by Elie Wiesel

Maus I & II by Art Spiegelman

Life is Beautiful (Film)

The Pianist” (Film)

Au Revoir Les Enfants” (Film)

Various Poetry and shorter pieces of writing as time allows.



  • Why study the Holocaust

  • Background to Anti-Semitism & Nazi-Germany

  • Life in the Ghetto

  • Holocaust Artists & Poets

  • The Final Solution

  • Jewish Resistance

  • Survivors & Liberators

Major Assignments

  • Novel Study Guide

  • Poetry & Art Response

  • Literary Work Sample

  • Final Choice Project

  • Personal Essay

  • Dialectical Journal


Essays, Tests, & Projects 50%

Classwork & Participation 25%

Homework 25%

Total= 100%

Assignments & Late Work

  1. All papers (essays, term papers, writing projects, etc.) must be typed and double spaced, 12 pt. font, Times New Roman, in MLA format, with a correct heading to receive credit. Papers with no name or heading will not be graded.

  2. Unless otherwise stated or assigned, I want all work to be turned into me physically (printed out or written on paper). There may be special circumstances when you may email your work to me, if arranged in advance.

  3. LATE WORK- students who turn in frequent late or incomplete work are demonstrating that they are not yet able to meet the requirements of high school, and therefore not “college-ready”.

    1. Late assignments will be accepted for reduced credit. The highest score a late assignment can receive is 75%, which shows proficiency of the material, but not mastery.

    2. Unless otherwise stated, homework is due at the beginning of class.

Additional Information and Resources


It is important that you be present and maintain regular attendance. Be aware that you are responsible for finding out what work you missed. Check the blog regularly for updates and assignments. “Seat time” can be made up before or after school by appointment only. Frequent absenteeism will have consequences on your ability to receive credit for the class, and be selected for Pathways.


  1. Cell-phones are not to be used in class. Turn them off, put them away. With permission, there may be times using a smart phone to access the internet is appropriate; you must ask first. Confiscated phones may be picked up from Mr. Sein at the end of the day.

  2. Treat adults, your classmates, and yourself with respect.

  3. Treat other people’s belongings with respect. This includes furniture, laptops, books, and other materials.

  4. Clean up after yourself. Throw away trash in the proper trash can.

  5. Wait your turn to talk. No side conversations.

  6. Be in your seat, ready to begin, when class starts.

  7. Do not gather at the door before dismissal.

  8. Complete your work and turn it in on time.

  9. Turn in homework, make up quizzes and tests the day your return to school, if absent.

  10. Only beverages in closed containers are allowed. No food.


Plagiarism is representing another’s thoughts, words, or ideas as your own. This is primarily seen as copying ideas and writing from the internet. This also includes copying another student’s work. This is a serious offense with serious consequences. Aside from showing a lack of understanding of the material, it reveals a lack of integrity, in both the student who cheats, and the ones who allow him/her to do so.

Plagiarism will receive a failing grade of zero (0) for the assignment with no opportunity for make-up, and will be documented in a referral.

Film Release Form

Throughout the term we will be viewing clips of films and/or entire movies to complement our study of the Holocaust. All of the films have won numerous awards and are considered exceptional artistic achievements, and are commonly used to teach issues related to this period.

Alternate readings & assignment will be provided to students who do not have permission.

Au Revoir Les Enfants (1987, Rated PG)

This profound French movie is about children in the midst of World War II.  The title refers to a loss of innocence and the terrible effects of war, ignorance, and bigotry on children. Because there is no overt brutality or violence, this film can be a moving and instructive way to bring the historical truths about Nazism and World War II to kids mature enough to understand its lessons. There is some swearing, all from the mouths of French private school boys. Some tense scenes show French collaborators and members of the Gestapo searching for Jewish boys.

Life is Beautiful (1997, Rated PG-13)

This award-winning Italian import Life Is Beautiful is set during the Holocaust, and features some very difficult themes, including war, fear, and the loss of a parent. There are clear references to the atrocities being committed, but most of the focus is on the humorous efforts of a father to shelter his son from them.

The Pianist (2002, Rated R)

The true story of a Jewish pianist; winner of the Academy Award for Best Actor, Best Director, & Best Screenplay. Parents need to know that this is clearly not a movie for children. However, in addition to being an excellent work of art, it's an instructive movie for teenagers who take for granted the comfort and stability of their world. War isn't glamorous, and the most principled and courageous people are among its first victims. This is an excellent movie about survival, fate, and values. It's a very worthwhile movie for young adults. Parents should know that the movie has strong language and graphic and horrific violence, including casual murder of Jews.

__________ YES, I give my student permission to view PG & PG-13 films

__________ YES, I give my student permission to view The Pianist

__________ NO, I DO NOT give permission to view PG and PG-13 films

Student Name _________________________________________Class:______

Parent Signature_______________________________________Date_________

Please sign and return this paper giving your permission for your student to view these films.


Acknowledgement of Syllabus and Course Policies

I have read the syllabus, and by signing this form show that I understand and agree to follow the expectations and requirements of the course. This includes policies pertaining to:

  • Required reading and course material

  • Attendance

  • Plagiarism

  • Grading policies

  • Late work

  • Behavior expectations

Student Signature:______________________________________________________________________________

Student Name (printed) :_________________________________________________________________________

Class Period: ___________________________

Parent Signature:__________________________________________________________________________

Printed Name:______________________________________________________________________________

Parent Email:_______________________________________________________________________________

Phone #: (or best way to reach you)________________________________________________________________

Questions or concerns? Please write below and include the best way to contact you. Thank you! –Alana Jevert

Sacred Writing Time

Sacred : (adjective) holy, hallowed, blessed, consecrated, sanctified, venerated, revered. You can describe something as sacred when it is regarded as too important to be changed or interfered with.  

Three Objectives for Sacred Writing Time

Sacred Writing Time builds writing fluency skills. Producing a page of interesting thoughts in 10 minutes is a goal.

Sacred Writing Time challenges us to be creative. We learn to present our ideas in unique formats.

Sacred Writing Time is when we practice new writing skills and vocabulary words.

It's ten simple minutes out of our daily schedule, but it will become one of the most important things we do in the classroom. We write...every single day...about anything we want. Ten minutes of freedom with our pencils and our imaginations or our dogmatic, pondering brains. There are no exceptions to this ten-minute time allotment. When you walk in, those who keep their writer's notebooks in the classroom bin, pull out those notebooks, and find a seat. Students who take their notebooks home with them every day pull their notebooks out of their binders or backpacks. As soon as class begins, we have ten minutes of silence, and I monitor, making sure everyone's pencil is dancing.

Ralph Fletcher--in his awesome how-to-be-a-writer books--talks about walking through the world with a "writer's eyes." Smart people walk through the world and make observations, but making an observation doesn't make you a writer; it makes you an observer and a thinker. Writers are thinkers who take the time to write their observations down, good writers write them down so they're engaging to reread or to share, and it’s my goal to provide ten minutes so that their students can turn their thinking into interesting snippets writing. "We write to prove that we think" shall be our motto.

Grading Guidelines

I maintain a special SWT page in my grade book that is a spreadsheet with everyone’s name on it. On any day a student doesn’t use all ten minutes, I write the date next to their name. Every two weeks, students earn an SWT grade from me, and they receive full credit provided they have no dates written next to their names. If I catch someone doing homework instead of writing in their notebooks, I write the date next to their name, and maybe destroy it. If they stare into space, I warn them, and I write the date next to their name on the second warning. When someone is absent, I write the date next to their names, and know they owe their writer's notebooks ten minutes and that they have to show me the entry (we write the date next to every entry) in order for me to cross off that date in my grade book. Notebooks are visual, so a lot attempt to color during their ten minutes, and I say no to that; the ten minutes every day must be spent writing, and if you exhaust your topic, start a new one. These are the simple-to-follow rules that earn full credit in my grade book.http://s3-ec.buzzfed.com/static/2013-10/enhanced/webdr02/29/19/enhanced-buzz-31954-1383090401-0.jpg

I will collect notebooks at random to take a closer look at your writing, give you feedback and rewards.

I have a number of resources to help you get started writing for ten minutes a day. If you find yourself searching for topics, consult the “Bingo Card” for the month, or the “Choice Menu” of the month if you're up for a real challenge, or you can respond to anything that's written up there on the Sacred Writing Time PowerPoint slide.

Just knowing that the next time you enter the classroom you will be doing Sacred Writing Time should encourage you to actively walk through the world looking for interesting topics!


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