Literature of the Holocaust
maintained by Al Filreis

The Holocaust: Problems of Representing the Experience of Genocide in Literature & Film

fall 2015
English 261.401 Tuesday/Thursday 3-4:20 PM
Arts Cafe, Kelly Writers House


Each student will write 4 short position papers and a 5th paper described below. They are due before or at the start of the class session, on the first day of discussion of a new reading or film. Send your position paper - preferably as text (not e.g. a Word attachment or PDF) - to our listserv: holocaust2015 @ writing . upenn. edu. And on the day when you are submitting a position paper, bring one printed copy to class (you may need to refer to it during discussion).

The whole point of these papers is to help inspire passionate and well-informed class discussion; thus late papers, good as they might be, are not helpful to the class as a whole. Late papers cannot be submitted. Nor are papers submitted on time from a student who is not present in class that day.

Position papers are short - between 500 and 750 words. The papers do not make a full interpretive or analytical case in support of the position being contended. They present the case first generally and then give very specific instances (one or two, possibly three) of the interpretation and analysis that would be needed if the position were to be argued fully. Position papers indeed have a distinct interpretive position. You may anticipate a counterargument and/or present what you take to be an opposing view, but, in the end, it should be very clear what your position is on the matter you are presenting. Your position is responsive to some issue, topic, problem, scene, character/person, narrative matter, or passage (in the case of a text). Be sure, at least at one point (or two), to be very specific. But also be sure to make your general contention. A rule of thumb: Ask yourself whether someone, upon reading this paper, would know how to disagree with its view.

References to - and brief quotations from - the text should be specific (including page citation). References to specific scenes or moments in a film should be as specific as possible.

The fifth paper is not a position paper. Each student will write a fifth paper that will be one of two things: 1) a summary of a book not on the syllabus but relevant to our discussions and concerns (such books will be made available by Al or Lily); or 2) a summary and informal analysis of one survivor testimony found in the Shoah Foundation Institute's Video Archive of Holocaust Survivors, which is housed in Van Pelt Library.