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Ethics in the face of Auschwitz : the emotional and pedagogical responsibility of Holocaust remembrance / by Rachel Nahmmacher Baum.

Publication | Digitized | Library Call Number: D804.3 .B385 1997

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    Lying at the intersection of cultural studies and Holocaust studies, "Ethics in the Face of Auschwitz: The Emotional and Pedagogical Responsibility of Holocaust Remembrance" provides an analysis of Holocaust texts in light of contemporary theories of the emotions, ethics, and pedagogy. Through an analysis of Holocaust memoirs, novels, films, museums, and curricula, the dissertation argues that the ethical obligation to remember the Holocaust is not only memorial, but also emotional, interwoven with questions of shame, empathy and trust. The first chapter explores in depth the connections between memory, emotion, responsibility, and pedagogy. By emphasizing the social dimension of these terms, chapter one sketches a foundation through which to understand the broader cultural context of Holocaust remembrance. Chapter two turns to one of the most challenging questions in Holocaust studies, "Is the Holocaust unique?" arguing that the traditional phrasing of the question obscures the complexity of the issues at stake. Viewing the controversy over the Holocaust's uniqueness through the broader context of Holocaust education, in particular the work of "Facing History and Ourselves," chapter two argues that the debate over the Holocaust's uniqueness is centrally a debate about empathy, about what can responsibly be shared with others. Chapter three analyzes the cultural work of shame and humiliation through a reading of Holocaust testimonies by Primo Levi, Jean Amery, and Binjamin Wilkomirski, arguing that such texts attempt to transform their authors' destructive shame into the readers' moral shame. The fourth chapter turns to the emotional responsibility of the witness, asking how Holocaust pedagogy might evoke an ethical witnessing. Analyzing classroom experiences, Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List, and Claude Lanzmann's Shoah, this chapter discusses the emotional and pedagogical dimensions of witnessing. The dissertation ends with a reading of the work of children of survivors, such as Art Spiegelman's Maus (in both book and CD-ROM format), Thane Rosenbaum's Elijah Visible, Carl Friedman's Nightfather, and J. J. Steinfeld's Dancing at the Club Holocaust, exploring the emotional responsibility imparted within and through these texts. Such stories bear significance for Holocaust education, the dissertation argues, for they reveal most poignantly the responsibility of living in the face of Auschwitz.
    Baum, Rachel Nahmmacher.
    Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 1997.
    Includes bibliographical references (p. 205-212).
    Photocopy. Ann Arbor, Mich. : UMI Dissertation Services, 1998. 22 cm.
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    Electronic version(s) available internally at USHMM.
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    ix, 213 p.

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