Instructor: Dr. Rachel N. Baum Email

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Representing the Holocaust in Words & Images


Note: This is not the exact syllabus for your semester, but it will give you a good sense of what we will be doing

Instructor: Dr. Rachel N. Baum

Office: Greene Museum 120 (Center for Jewish Studies; next to Sabin)
Phone: 229-5156

Photo from Schindler’s List
Course Description: The Holocaust remains one of the most horrific events in modern history. It is nearly impossible to comprehend the torture and murder of men, women, and children on such a massive scale. History has had a difficult enough time piecing together the events of the past . . . what about art? Is it appropriate to write novels and poetry about such horror? Do literature and film add anything to the study of history? What should such literature and film do? Should it shock us? Educate us? Horrify us? Make us cry? How can literature and film help us to remember a past we did not experience?
This course will provide a general background to the Holocaust as well as to the study of literature.

Required Reading:
The following books are available for purchase at the UWM Bookstore and should be easily available from other booksellers.
Gerda Weissman Klein, All But My Life

Art Spiegelman, Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began

Ruth Kluger, Still Alive: A Holocaust Childhood Remembered
All other readings will be delivered via an online program called Ginkgotree, at a cost of $15.

Students are expected to bring the reading of the day to class with them, either on an e-device or on paper. Students who come unprepared will receive a zero for the day’s work. If you have an exceptional situation, please speak to me about it before class.

Learning Outcomes:

A student successfully completing this course will be able to:

  • Identify the major events of the Holocaust and describe the historical progression of the Nazi murder of the Jews of Europe

  • Describe the major ethical, aesthetic, and representational concerns around representations of the Holocaust

  • Recognize, evaluate, and analyze the complex moral context of the Holocaust, with particular attention to the roles of victim, perpetrator, and bystander

  • Analyze a Holocaust text (literature or film) with particular attention to the ethical, aesthetic, and representational issues raised by the text.


This course has a D2L site, where you will find some of the course readings as well as the quizzes (which are taken and submitted online). I have also set up a Facebook page for the course. You can find the page by clicking on the Facebook link in the upper right hand corner of the D2L page. Through FB, I will send reminders of due dates, articles that might be of interest, etc……..Using D2L is mandatory for the class, but Facebook is not. That said, you’ll find the FB page useful, and I recommend it. You only need to “like” the page, you don’t need to friend anyone in the class.

Ginkgotree/Online Textbook

This class is involved in a pilot project on the use of an online personalized textbook. We are using a program called Ginkgotree, which gives you online access to many of the readings of the class. The purpose of the pilot project is to try out new ways to bring down the cost of textbooks for students.

In addition, Ginkgotree has many cool features. You can annotate (comment) in GT, can respond to essays, can mark up your papers, etc – Many of the features you can do with a paper copy, as well as additional features.
Because you are the “guinea pigs,” I’ll be asking you to fill out a survey or two about your experiences using GT. I really appreciate your willingness to try something new!


1. Quizzes, 300 points: There are frequent quizzes in this course. The point of frequent quizzes is to insure that everyone is doing the reading. Most of the quizzes are only a few questions long; the quizzes on Holocaust History are more substantial, because you need the historical background.
Generally, quizzes are due before class on the day that the reading is due. The quizzes all together are worth 30% of your grade, so take them seriously.
Quizzes will be administered online via the course D2L site. The questions are mostly multiple choice.
2. Journal, 400 points (10 entries, 40 points per entry): Much of the writing in this class will be done through journal entries. Journal entries allow you to regularly engage with the issues of the class, to reflect on what you have read, to ask questions, wonder, imagine, and explore. The idea of them is to have you write regularly, rather than only completing a few essays over the course of the semester. This means that the work in this class will be frequent, but low-stress, because each assignment is not worth that many points.
Your journal will be handed in on D2L. If you complete more than 10 entries, I will drop the lower grades.
3. Midterm Essay, 100 points. Due on 3/28 (on D2L and in hard copy).
4. Final Essay (final exam), 100 points. Due on 5/13 (on D2L).
5. Attendance/Participation/Group Participation: 100 points
6. Extra Credit, up to 100 points.

a. Watch Holocaust films & write a 1-2 page paper (single spaced) about them. (up to 20 points each)

b. Attend Holocaust-related events/lectures and write a 1-2 page paper (single spaced) about them (up to 25 points each)

c. Commenting on Ginkgotree to questions I pose (generally 5-10 pts each)

d. Other EC might be available, as ideas come to me.
Extra credit will only be counted for those students who have missed no more than six classes, and who have completed at least ½ of the quizzes and ½ of the journal entries.

Grading (It’s not personal; it’s math!):

The grading for this course is based on 1000 points. Your final grade will be computed thusly:

950 – 1000 points = A

900 – 949 = A-

860 – 899 = B+

821 – 859 = B

800 – 820 = B-

760 – 799 = C+

721 – 759 = C

700 – 720 = C-

650 – 699 = D+

600 – 649 = D

Below 600 points = F
Your grade will be kept up to date on D2L, and I encourage you to use that information to inspire your active participation in the course.

Time Commitment

Students are different: some are fast readers, others are not; some can more easily put their ideas into words than others. That said, here is an average breakdown of how you can expect to spend your time this semester:
In-class time: 37.5 hours (2.5 hours a week)

Reading & Comprehension: 75 hours (5 hours/week)

Essays: 12 hours

Quizzes (studying & completing): 15 hours


Attendance: The learning for this class happens primarily in the classroom, so your attendance in class is vital. Therefore, you are allowed two free absences. After that, you will lose class points for not attending. Here is how it lays out:
1 absence: 100 points

2 absences: 100 points

3 absences: 80 points

4 absences: 60 points

5 absences: 35 points

6 absences: 10 point

7 or more absences: 0 points
Students who miss more than 10 classes will fail the class, independent of their grades on other elements of the course.

Arriving Late/Leaving Early: If you need to leave class early, or come in late, please note this on a piece of paper with your name & hand it to me. I will add up the time you have missed and apply it to the attendance policy (e.g, if you leave 15 minutes early four times during the semester, it will count as missing one 75-minute class).
Participation/Preparedness: You must come to class each day prepared to talk about the readings, and with the readings in your hand. Any student who is not so prepared will receive a zero for the day, which will be factored into your class participation grade.
Late Assignments: If you are absent the day an assignment is due, please bring it to the following class. You can find out what we did in class by looking at the syllabus; otherwise, please ask another student for notes. I will post any handouts on the D2L site.
Participation by All Students: If you need special accommodations in order to meet any of the requirements of this course, please contact me as soon as possible. Students with a Visa from the Student Accessibility Center should give me the visa within the first two weeks of the class.
Accommodation for Religious Observances:

Students will be allowed to complete examinations or other requirements that are missed because of a religious observance.

Email Etiquette: I check my email regularly and will usually respond to email within 24 hours. Please make the subject line something identifiable, such as Jewish Studies 261, so that I don’t accidentally delete your message. Should you not hear from me within a day, please resend it.

Technology Policy:

We all multi-task. We surf the web while watching TV while texting a friend. But not in this class. I will ask you not to multitask during my class. If you have an open laptop, you should be using it to take notes.

This extends to other technology too. Please put your phones on vibrate and do not answer any phone calls or text messages unless you are monitoring an emergency, have kids in school, etc. If you need to use the phone, please step out of the room.
Academic Misconduct

Students are responsible for the honest completion and representation of their work, for the appropriate citation of sources, and for respect of others' academic endeavors. Claiming other people’s writing or ideas as your own is a serious offense. Be sure to credit your sources – including information you’ve gotten off of the Internet – in your work. If you are unsure how to do this, be sure to see me.

If that’s not persuasive enough, university policy specifies that “[p]rohibited conduct includes cheating on an examination; collaborating with others in work to be presented, contrary to the stated rules of the course; submitting a paper or assignment as one's own work when a part or all of the paper or assignment is the work of another; submitting a paper or assignment that contains ideas or research of others without appropriately identifying the sources of those ideas; stealing examinations or course materials; submitting, if contrary to the rules of a course, work previously presented in another course; tampering with the laboratory experiment or computer program of another student; knowingly and intentionally assisting another student in any of the above, including assistance in an arrangement whereby any work, classroom performance, examination or other activity is submitted or performed by a person other than the student under whose name the work is submitted or performed.”
Potential penalties for academic misconduct include reprimand, repeating an assignment, failing the assignment or course, removal from the course, academic probation, suspension, or expulsion.
My Zero-Tolerance Policy Towards Plagiarism

The internet has made it easier to cheat in a variety of ways. I have had more cases of plagiarism over the last five years than I have in the past. Filing academic misconduct charges against a student is time-consuming and depressing. Because of my past experience, I have now instituted a zero-tolerance policy towards plagiarism. Of course, most students don’t cheat, so this is directed only towards those of you who might at some point consider taking the easy way out of a paper or exam.

If I catch you cheating on anything in my class – a one-page paper or a quiz – you will fail the class. No questions asked. I will not care that it was your first time cheating, or that you are under a lot of stress. Cheating is wrong and it will not be tolerated in this class. I will report the case to the dean of students and you will fail the class. It will not matter if you have been in the class for one month or for the entire semester.
The University Policy about these issues and others (e.g., students called to active military duty, discriminatory conduct, incompletes, etc.) can be found at:

Major/Minor in Jewish Studies

This course fulfills a requirement for the Jewish Studies major and minor. The major offers two tracks: Hebrew Studies and Jewish Cultural Studies (which does not require Hebrew language). With its combination of core courses and electives, the Jewish Studies program allows students to create a course of study that can focus on religion, culture, Israel, Holocaust, media, or immigration. A dynamic and innovative major, Jewish Studies prepares students to work in our multicultural world.
For more information on the Jewish Studies major and minor, please contact me, as I am coordinator of the Jewish Studies program.


Subject to Change

To determine your homework, look at the following class period to see what we will be studying. You must come prepared to discuss the texts listed on the syllabus for each particular day.

All reading other than All But My Life, Maus II, and Still Alive can be found in Ginkgotree (accessed via D2L).

Week One: Introduction to the course

T 1/21 First day of class – go over syllabus, course policies.

HW: Buy books/Ginkgotree; Begin reading Holocaust History I (Ginkgotree)

Th 1/23: Holocaust History I. What was the Holocaust? Holocaust timeline.

Week Two: Introduction to the Holocaust and Holocaust Literature

T 1/28: More on Holocaust history

Th 1/30: Is the Holocaust beyond expression? Poetry after Auschwitz, issues of Holocaust representation.
Quiz #1 (on “Holocaust History I”) must be completed on D2L before Thursday’s class

Journal #1 due

Week Three: Testimony

T 2/4: All But My Life

Th 2/6: All But My Life
Journal #2 due

Week Four: Visual Testimony

T 2/11: Holocaust History II (Ginkgotree). In class: One Survivor Remembers (video)

Th 2/13: Holocaust History II (Ginkgotree). In class: Night & Fog (video)
Quiz #2 (on “Holocaust History II”) due on D2L by midnight, Thurs, 2/13
Quiz #3 (on “Holocaust History III”) due on D2L by midnight, Sunday, 2/16
Journal #3 due

Week Five: The Complexity of Testimony

T 2/18: Borowski, “This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen” (GT) Quiz #4 due before class.
Th 2/20: Four Excerpts from The Good Old Days (GT); Christopher Browning, “One Day in Jozefow: Initiation to Mass Murder” (GT) Quiz # 5 due before class.
Journal #4 due

Week Six: The Complexity of Testimony, Part II: Perpetrator & Bystander Testimony

T 2/25: “Holocaust History IV” (in GT). In class: Shoah (DVD)

Th 2/27: “Holocaust History V” (in GT) In class: Blind Spot &/or Hitler’s Secretary.
Quiz #6 on “Holocaust History IV” due on D2L by midnight, Thurs, 2/27.

Quiz #7 on “Holocaust History V” due on D2L by midnight, Sun, 3/2
Journal #5 due

Week Seven: The Complexity of Testimony, Part II: Survivor Fiction

T 3/4: Ida Fink, “ A Scrap of Time,” “*****”, “The Key Game”

Th 3/6: Ida Fink, “A Spring Morning” and “Behind the Hedge”. Quiz # 8 (on all Fink stories) due before class.
Journal #6 due

Week Eight: The Complexity of Testimony, Part III: Autobiographical Stories

T 3/11: Sara Nomberg-Przytyk, “The Block of Death,” and “Esther’s First Born” (GT) Quiz #9 due before class.

Th 3/13: Bernard Gotfryd, “On Guilt,” “Helmut Reiner” (GT) Quiz #10 due before class.
Journal #7 due

Week Nine: Spring Break

T 3/18 and Th 3/20: No class – Enjoy your break!
Week Ten: Poetry

T 3/25: Paul Celan, “Death Fugue” (in class: Holocaust poetry, Judaism 101, Universalism vs. particularism)
Th 3/27: Read all the files for this week on Ginkgotree: Charlotte Delbo, “Arrivals, Departures” “Seven Poems, Seven Paintings,” Charles Reznikoff, from “Holocaust”, Jacob Glatstein, “Without Jews”
Midterm Paper Due

Week Eleven: Second-Generation Literature: Maus II

T 4/1: Maus II

Th 4/3: Maus II , also the POV video about Spiegelman on GT. Quiz #11 (on all of Maus II) due before class.

Week Twelve: Second Generation Literature

T 4/8: “Ida Solomon’s Play” (by J.J. Steinfeld); “from Nightfather” (by Carl Friedman) (CR) Quiz #12 due before class.

Th 4/10: “Cattle Car Complex”; “The Apostate’s Tattoo” (CR) Quiz #13 due before class.

Journal #8 due

Week Thirteen: Still Alive

T 4/15: Still Alive Quiz #14 due before class.

Th 4/17: Still Alive Quiz #15 due before class.

Week Fourteen: Art & the Holocaust

T 4/22: Art & the Holocaust
Th 4/24: Art & the Holocaust
Journal #9 due

Week Fifteen:

T 4/29: Train of Life

Th 5/1: Train of Life

Week Sixteen

T 5/6: Paper Clips, or TBA

Th 5/8: Paper Clips, or TBA
Journal #10 due
Final Exam Essay due May 12, 2014

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