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Indiana University Bloomington
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Course Description

Victims and Avengers: Readings in the Holocaust Literature of Israel (3 cr)
Stephen Katz
JSTU-L 377 (31354)
TR 4:00-5:15 (WH 007)

Meets with NELC-N 695 (31475)

“To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.”  “There are no other analogies.”  These statements and slogans, among others, are by writers reflecting on the Holocaust as an event that has seized the minds and literatures of western cultures.  Of all, Hebrew literature in Israel is the most replete of works that point to its fixation on the devastating event of the destruction of Jewry during the Second World War.

Just as one cannot understand Israeli civilization and culture without knowing of Jerusalem and Masada, one cannot be considered knowledgeable about this society without knowing of the impact the Holocaust had on its history and national mindset. 

In this course, we will consider some of the most seminal of writers and writings that have been active in reflecting on the Holocaust during, immediately following, and decades after the Holocaust.  We will especially examine translations into English of works written originally in Hebrew, but not exclusively so.  Some of the works about the Holocaust from Yiddish as well as Polish will constitute part of our readings.  And while most of our readings will be of Israeli (pre-statehood to today) writers, we will examine works by Hebrew and Yiddish writers who lived in Eastern Europe and the United States.  These latter individuals will illuminate attitudes to the Holocaust from a different perspective to underscore attitudes held in common by all, as well as those distinguishing one group from the other.

Students will take a midterm exam, a final exam and will write an essay reflecting on an assigned work about the Holocaust.