Advanced Search

Learn About The Holocaust

Special Collections

My Saved Research




Skip to main content

Framing the Holocaust in English class : secondary teachers and students reading Holocaust literature / Karen Spector.

Publication | Library Call Number: D804.33 .S64 2005

In this qualitative research study of three secondary school Holocaust literature units in the Midwest, I examined responses from 3 teachers and 126 students as they constructed the Holocaust in English class. The participants at the first site, Adams 2003, were part of a middle class suburban community and were within a school with 98% Whites. I returned to this site in 2004 to co-teach the Holocaust literature unit with the teacher with a critical literacy focus. Over the two years, 91 8th grade students and 1 teacher participated in the study at Adams. The second site, River Hill 2004, was in a high poverty urban center with 98% Blacks. The total number of participants at River Hill was 35 10th graders and 2 teachers.I spent 369 observational hours within the three schools, and I tape recorded class sessions, small group discussions, and interviews with teachers and students. I also collected all written or drawn artifacts that the students produced. I began analyzing data by looking for the narrative frames (Ricoeur, 1984, 1988) participants used to interpret the Holocaust. Within these frames, I used critical discourse analysis (Fairclough, 1995; Gee, 1997; Rogers, 2004) to further analyze the data.I found that teachers and 79 of 126 students at both schools used religious narrative frames to interpret Night (Wiesel, 1982), sometimes with lethal implications for Jews. I also found that students at Adams in 2003 and 2004 used narratives of hope to interpret the The Diary of Anne Frank (Goodrich & Hackett, 1994). In order to maintain their hopeful narratives, students eviscerated Anne from her treacherous surroundings and even stashed her death in what Morris (2001) referred to as “memory holes.” Students in all three units also enfigured Hitler as the sole, and demonic, perpetrator of the Holocaust, enfigured Jews as sheep being led to the slaughter, and claimed to learn 368 different lessons. As for the teachers, they each wanted their students to learn lessons of tolerance through their study of the Holocaust, and none of the three teachers taught students the history of antisemitism before the 20th century.

Spector, Karen.
Record last modified: 2018-05-18 16:19:00
This page: