WGS F340 • Women's Narrative of the Holocaust and WWII-W
10:00 AM-11:30 AM
This course is meant to serve as an introduction to the history of both Jewish and of German women during WW II and the Holocaust and to women's narratives and self-representations of this period. The focus in this class is twofold: 1. We will examine the historical role of non-Jewish German and of Jewish women during WW II and the Holocaust from different positions in order to explore what a feminist, or gender history may look like. We will thus explore how fascism defined the gender roles of non-Jewish women in Germany, and how the Nazis conceived of and treated Jewish women and other female "enemies of the state." We examine if and how the experience of Jewish women may have differed from that of (Jewish) men, and investigate whether this difference is due to a differential treatment of Jewish women on the part of the Nazis and the Jewish community, or to other factors. 2. We will examine autobiographical texts of these different women as self-representations that attempt to negotiate the different (and shifting) discourses on femininity and masculinity, and the role of women in the public and private sphere available during the war years. Although the texts (both autobiographical writing and interviews) sketch a picture of the experiences, roles and gender constructions of women during 1933-1945 that we seek to examine, we will not just use these texts as "eyewitness" documents of women's different (gendered) experience. Instead, we critically investigate how to interpret these texts. Some of the questions we will examine are: how are these texts produced? When were they produced, during, soon after, or many decades after the events took place? What is the role of the interviewer or editor, what is the role of time and aging? Are the texts gendered? If so, how? Is memory gendered, or are narratives? How do the texts relate to the lived experience? What are we to make of their subjectivity? How do we interpret the texts' rhetorical strategies, and how do these function for the authors who write them? What is at stake in producing these texts?
Attendance/Participation: 20% Response Papers (4 x 5% each): 20% Class Presentation: 10% Presentation Paper: 15% Final Research Paper: 35%
Carol Rittner and John K. Roth, eds. Different Voices: Women and the Holocaust Ruth Klüger Still Alive and course packet, available from Speedway Copies in the Dobie mall (478-3334) We will watch the following films in class: Ray Muller The Horrible, Wonderful Life of Leni Riefenstahl Andre Heller and Othmar Schmiderer Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary Helke Sander BeFreiers, Befreite: Krieg, Vergewaltigung, Kinder