GSA-Seminar “The Future of Teaching the Holocaust in German Studies, History, and Comparative Literature in the U.S.” (September 18-21, 2014, Kansas City, MO)

This seminar solicits paper proposals from literary, cultural studies, and history teacher-scholars who investigate various strategies (including the use of digital teaching materials) for teaching the Representation of the Holocaust in German Studies, and who address pedagogical concerns related to the choice of the language of instruction.

This seminar builds on the discussion about the past, present, and future of Holocaust Studies that was central to the 2013 GSA conference in Denver, CO. Based on Ruth Klüger’s observations in her GSA keynote address about “The Future of Holocaust Literature” as well as Marianne Hirsch and Irene Kacandes’ seminal work on Teaching the Representations of the Holocaust (2004), our session seeks to continue and extend the conversations about “The Future of Holocaust Studies,” asking how (and if) to learn from the past is still relevant for today’s students and what new approaches might be necessary to teach the Shoah and its legacies. We hope that these seminar discussions will allow us to assess and discuss how this complex topic is taught in today’s language, literature, culture, and history courses and in the digital humanities at U.S. universities and colleges.

We envision three main points of departure for seminar discussions, which, depending on the nature of the submissions, could be the foci for the three seminar days:

The first is Alan Rosen's question pertaining to the use of English in teaching the Representation of the Holocaust: "How does a teacher resolve the tension between the centrality of English to teaching the Holocaust, on the one hand, and its marginality to the events, on the other?" We would like to extend his notion to the Teaching of Holocaust-related topics in the German-language classroom.

We are equally interested in discussing how the increasingly digitized classroom as well as digitized forms of memorialization have impacted our teaching and the selection of teaching materials at a time when we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the camps in 2014 and 2015, and when the era of the living witnesses to the events of the Holocaust is coming to a close. What is the role of Holocaust literature in German Studies at times in which apps for smartphones – such as the recently launched “Stolpersteine” app in Munich – are developed to offer digital, virtual versions of memorials for the modern tourist? How has the public history of the Holocaust changed with digitized forms of memorialization? What is the degree of complementarity of all these forms as they enrich Holocaust Studies?
Third, we would like to take a look at the dual roles that many of us assume as researchers and educators, and consequently the challenges that we face when working at U.S. institutions of higher learning. One central issue we would like to debate in our respective roles concerns the different nature of questions about the Shoah and its legacies. We hope that our seminar discussion will initiate a fruitful debate on whether the demands of our classroom – be it in German Studies, History, or Comparative Literature – are reflected in the questions that are posed by researchers
Possible discussion questions:
•       How do we teach the history, memory, and memorialization of the Holocaust in the different disciplines (i.e., German Studies, cultural component of language instruction, History, Comparative Literature)?
•       In what way do memorials and memorialization impact and complement the teaching of Holocaust literature in German Studies and German language instruction?
•       How can the revival of Jewish life in Germany impact the teaching of the Holocaust in German Studies and German language instruction?
•       How is the Holocaust addressed in the digital humanities?
•       How do pedagogical questions differ from research questions? Do pedagogical questions reflect research questions – and vice versa?
•       What are the pedagogical concerns in teaching courses (or parts of a course) in either German or English? How do our learning objectives differ in courses taught in English versus those taught in German (and in those that use both)?
•       Is it possible to teach original German texts in an undergraduate (third- or fourth-year) German course without risking the loss of in-depth discussions?
•       Does the discussion of German texts allow for a deeper focus on philological aspects rather than on contents? Do seminal German texts translated into English undermine students' confidence in the "authenticity" of what they read?
•       As a case in point: Which of Ruth Klüger's childhood memoirs should be read in a course taught in German at a U.S. College or University: Still Alive, which was written for an American audience, or weiter leben, which was intended for German readers?

Applications for enrollment are due by January 30, 2014 on the GSA website ( Upon acceptance, short 7-9 page papers will be due by July 1, 2014.

Seminar conveners:
Iris Bork-Goldfield (Wesleyan University)
Natalie Eppelsheimer (Middlebury College)
Marcel Rotter (University of Mary Washington)
Questions: Dr. Marcel Rotter ([log in to unmask])

Dr. Marcel P. Rotter
Associate Professor of German
President AATG-Virginia
Department of Modern Foreign Languages
University of Mary Washington
1301 College Avenue, 219 Combs Hall
Fredericksburg, VA, 22401 USA
Telephone: (*1) 540.654.1996
Telefax: (*1) 540.654.1088
Email: [log in to unmask]

Office Hours for Spring Semester 2014:
MTWF 2:00-3:00 pm
and by appointment

The German Studies Call for Papers List
Editor: Stefani Engelstein
Assistant Editor:  Olaf Schmidt
Sponsored by the University of Missouri
Info available at: