Holocaust Testimony and Its Reception:
Cultural Transformations and Pedagogical Issues
Convener: Rachel Feldhay Brenner
Hebrew Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
October 28, 2011
Banquet Room, University Club Building
Download the readings
[compressed zip file]
The Holocaust experience reaches us through testimony, and consciousness of the event has invaded the post-Holocaust cultural and educational Weltanschauung. This symposium explores the post-Holocaust reception of Holocaust testimony with special emphasis on the issue of empathy. Are responses to the Holocaust motivated by an indelible ethical need to penetrate the incomprehensible world of the Final Solution and to restore the humanity of the dehumanized victim? Or, are they shaped by a reluctance to face the horror? What do such responses tell us about the steadfastness of empathic capacities and about their limits?
The participants include faculty and graduate students engaged in the exploration of the ethics and politics of cultural and educational responses to atrocities. While the symposium focuses on the Holocaust, it is my hope that the discussions will be relevant to studies of post-Holocaust catastrophes which expose the tenuousness of humanistic values. The purpose of the pedagogical aspect of the symposium is to discuss the objectives and challenges facing teachers and students of the ethical meaning of histories of atrocity and terror.
Participants are expected to read ahead the relevant texts, which are provided in the zip files above. The various perspectives and voices, which the materials represent, will provide a basis for the discussions. Excerpts from films and documentaries will be shown in the course of the discussions.
If you are interested in participating in the discussions, please email Rachel Brenner so you can be placed on the list.