nl en

Holocaust Icons in Arts, Film and Literature (minor)


Admission requirements

Propedeuse Humanities


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 rituals performed at 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 had over time in the construction of cultural memory.
In this interactive class, the central topics of Holocaust-memory studies will be discussed: remembrance and oblivion, truth and narrative, documentation and the archive, sacralisation and irony, truth and autobiography, Holocaust-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 memorials such as the online Jewish monument, work by Abel Herzberg, Carl Friedman, Primo Levi, Georges Perec, Yael Bartana and Arnon Grunberg: films such as Schindlers list and their critical reception.
Representation analysis will demonstrate in which ways the Shoah is represented. We will study how trauma manifests itself and how collective memory is constructed by the different representations. Theoretical texts by Saul Friedländer, Oren Baruch Stier, Hillary Chute, Andreas Huyssen, Ernst van Alphen and Aleida Assmann will be used in our analyses.

Course objectives

  • You will be able to define the basic concepts of memory studies and of cultural analysis.

  • You can recognize the different ways in which memory may be produced in art, film and literature, and additionally become aware of cultural and politcal dynamics in the representation and remembrance of historical events.

  • In this course, you will also be able write and present well argumented and theoretically strong analyses and interpretations of such works, and you can recognize and evaluate the icons, idols and clichés of Holocaust representation.


See the timetable of the Minors

Mode of instruction

  • Weekly Seminar

  • Excursion to the Hollandse Schouwburg and/or the Anne Frankhouse in Amsterdam.

Course Load

140 hours:

  • Seminars: 42 hours

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature and preparing the assignments: 46 hours

  • Time to prepare your sessions: 12

  • Time to write a paper (including reading / research): 40 hours

Assessment method

Assessment and grading method (in percentages):.

  • Essay (60%)

  • Weekly assignments (20%)

  • Presentation and research plan (20%)

For each part of the assessment at least a 5.5 should be obtained. The final grade is the weighted average of all grades.


Only the paper has a resit possibility


Blackboard will be used for:

  • communication and to pass on announcements

  • information about the content of the course

Reading list

If you want, you are welcome to begin reading these titels over the summer, to reduce the work load:

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

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

  • Art Spiegelman, Maus, 2 parts.

  • Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank.

Further reading will be announced in class.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte


For questions about the content of this course: Prof. dr. Y. van Dijk

For practical matters you may contact the secretarial office of the Opleiding Nederlandse Taal en Cultuur/Neerlandistiek. It is the Onderwijsadministratie P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 101A. Tel. 071 5272 2144. E-mail.


Students with doubts about the level of their English should consider taking an autumn course here. If that is not possible, please contact Yra van Dijk.