French 2211F
Holocaust and Literature: Understanding suffering

Offered in English

Prerequisites: None
Antirequisites: None
NOTE: This course cannot count towards a Department of French Studies module.

Course description:

This course will offer a brief description of life during the Holocaust through the reading of a few essential testimonial texts. We first will briefly survey the events and questions and place them in their proper historical, religious, human and political frames. Through the eyes of the witnesses, we shall try to understand some facets of the human tragedy that the Holocaust constitutes and how it is lived on a daily basis. The course wishes to present individual experiences of this historical event, which remains the paradigm of genocides of the XXth century.  We want to explore the ways people react to extraordinary circumstances and interact within a society where all rules have changed. We will listen to voices describing the cruelty of the executioners, the humanity of the rescuers, the passivity of the bystander and the fears of the victims. The course explores the specific experiences of several groups, including women, hidden children, freedom fighters, etc. and will try to offer a reading of the past that will facilitate the understanding of contemporary events. We shall not avoid delicate or horrific situations or sensitive ethical questions.

We will also call on some visual support quite difficult to see. No previous knowledge of the historical, religious or political background is required.