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Cultural memory: Shoah in monuments, art, film and literature



Propedeuse Geesteswetenschappen.

The class is given in English, but grades will be based on academic content, not on the fluency of the language used. When in doubt about your English, please contact the course coordinator.


Collective memory of the Shoah is produced by testimonies such as Anne Frank’s diary, by documentaries such as Lanzmanns Shoah, by works of literature, by mainstream movies such as Schindler’s List, or in artworks, musea and memorial sites. In the dual context of both memory studies and representation analysis we will look at the different functions and effects that such works have and have had over time in the construction of cultural memory.
In this interactive class, the central topics of Shoah-memory will be discussed: memory and oblivion, truth and event, documentation, the archive, sacralisation, irony, autobiography, Shoah-idols, aura and authenticity, and the function of mass-media. Among the cases discussed will be sites like ‘De Hollandsche Schouwburg’ and the Anne Frank House, digital monuments such as the Dutch online Jewish monument, work by Abel Herzberg, Carl Friedman, Armando, Primo Levi, Georges Perec, Steven Reich, Yael Bartana and Arnon Grunberg.
Representation analysis will demonstrate in which ways the Shoah is represented, and we will study the different ways in which trauma manifests itself and how collective memory is constructed by the different representations. Theoretical texts by Saul Friedlander, Oren Baruch Stier, Marianne Hirsch, Ernst van Alphen and Aleida Assmann will be used in our analyses.


You will acquire knowledge of cultural memory- and representation theory and additionally become aware of cultural dynamics in the representation of historical events in art, literature and memorial sites. You will be trained in the analysis of the signification strategies and effects of the objects under scrutiny. In this course, you will also learn to write and present well argumented interpretations of such works, and you will be able to recognize the icons, idols and clichés of Shoah representations.


Zie het rooster van de opleiding Nederlandse taal en cultuur


Werkcollege 3 uur


Totale studielast voor de cursus: 140 uur.

  • uren die aan het volgen van college worden besteed: 42 uur.

  • tijd voor het bestuderen van de verplichte literatuur; 42 uur

  • voorbereiden referaat: 16 uur

  • tijd voor het schrijven van een werkstuk: 40 uur (inclusief inlezen / onderzoek)


  • Tweewekelijkse opdrachten: 40%

  • Referaat: 20%

  • Werkstuk: 40 %

Voor elk van de deeltoetsen moet in elk geval een 5.5 behaald worden. Het eindcijfers wordt vastgesteld op grond van het gewogen gemiddelde van de drie cijfers.

Alleen het werkstuk kan worden herkanst.


Ja, voor de studiehandleiding en voor het inleveren van opdrachten.


  • Primo Levi, If this is a man. Translation Stuart Woolf.

  • Arnon Grunberg, De Asielzoeker.

  • Charlotte Delbo, Auschwitz and after.

  • Tadeusz Borowski, This way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen.

  • Art Spiegelman, Maus, 2 parts.

  • Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank.

  • Alphen, E. Van. (1997) Caught by history. Holocaust effects in Contemporary Art, Literature and Theory. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

  • Friedlander, S. (ed.). Introduction to: Probing the limits of representation. Nazism and ‘the final solution’. Cambridge, Ma, Harvard University Press (introduction only).

  • Anne Rothe, Popular trauma culture: Selling the pain of others in the mass media, Rutgers University Press 2011. (Two chapters).

  • Stier, O.B. (2003) Committed to memory. Cultural Mediations of the Holocaust. Amherst and Boston, University of Massachusetts Press (three chapters).

  • Sue Vice, Holocaust fiction. Routledge 2000. (Introduction).


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Prof. dr. Y. van Dijk