Ravenel Richardson, visiting scholar at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, will offer a remote lecture and remote course through the Siegal Lifelong Learning Program.
Titled “We Seek The Meaning Of Life: Reading In The Face Of Destruction,” the remote course will be held Tuesday, Sept. 15, at 1:30 p.m. EDT. The course, titled “Trauma, Ethics, and Witness in Women’s Holocaust Diaries,” will be Tuesdays from Sept. 22 to Oct. 13.
“We Seek The Meaning Of Life: Reading In The Face Of Destruction”
Tuesday, Sept. 15 1:30 p.m. EDT
Discover and discuss the reading practices of Hélène Berr and Etty Hillesum, Jewish literary scholars who kept diaries during the Holocaust as the Nazis attempted to strip them of their intellectual heritage, culture and humanity.
Both women were well-read in multiple languages and disciplines and were forced out of their doctoral programs when the Germans invaded their countries. Each would informally continue her studies, seeking the meaning of life—and death—through reading her favorite authors and thinkers.
Richardson will explore how each woman attempted to envision her own imprisonment and death as a mode of resistance, designed to withstand the dehumanization and psychological degradation the Nazi Germans intended for them.
“Trauma, Ethics, and Witness in Women’s Holocaust Diaries”
Tuesdays, Sept. 22–Oct. 13 1:30–3 p.m. EDT
Recounting a range of gendered experiences—including sexual barter and the dissolution of familial ties—Renata Laqueur’s diary is a compelling account of the dehumanization enforced by the Nazis in Bergen-Belsen. Despite many attempts, Laqueur was never able to find an American publisher for her diary. Laqueur provided several interviews to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in the 1990s in which she discusses her practice of diary keeping in the camp—what she included in her diary, what she intentionally left out and what was lost due to traumatic memory—along with the moral accommodations she made to survive in the camp.
Through an examination of Laqueur’s diaries alongside her later oral testimony in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum archives, this course will address gender-specific experiences of genocide and question the social and political imperatives surrounding who is authorized to share their stories of the Holocaust. This seminar-style course has limited enrollment to allow small group discussion.