ERIC Number: EJ1045147
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Reference Count: 39
Empathy, Sympathy, Simulation? Resisting a Holocaust Pedagogy of Identification
Bos, Pascale R.
Review of Education, Pedagogy & Cultural Studies, v36 n5 p403-421 2014
Most colleges and universities in the United States today offer one or more undergraduate courses on the Holocaust in History, Sociology, Literature, or other Humanities disciplines. Enrollments are strong, and many faculty members find themselves teaching such courses at the request of their chair or dean. However, most faculty will not have been formally trained in the subject during their own undergraduate or graduate education, especially if they are not historians, because full degree programs in Holocaust Studies have only emerged over the last fifteen years and are still uncommon. Moreover, they may find that teaching the subject differs in many respects from their other kinds of instruction. Although a variety of teaching manuals, websites, and summer institutes offer guidance (Airton 2009; Goldenberg and Millen 2007), the unprecedented scale and the severity of the Holocaust, both in terms of the violence and the resulting trauma, and the way it puts into question the ''limits of representation'' (Friedlander 1992), challenges faculty in several ways. How does one teach a history or literature of the Holocaust when the extreme events push the limits of what can be represented and understood about it? How does one convey the horror of these crimes and the severity of the trauma endured by its victims without causing students to experience a kind of ''crisis'' that may resemble secondary trauma (Felman 1992)? What pedagogical methods are most effective? How does one make the Holocaust culturally and politically relevant today without making facile comparisons, and without enabling an over simplistic identification with the victims? Throughout this article, the author argues that a broader awareness is needed of how the teaching of the Holocaust in the United States is strongly indebted to particular kinds of cultural perspectives that need to be challenged.
Descriptors: Trauma, War, Death, European History, Empathy, Simulation, Teacher Competencies, College Faculty, Violence, Crime, History Instruction, Seminars, Surveys, Teaching Methods, Teacher Qualifications, Educational History, College Curriculum, Case Studies, Females
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A