Holocaust Literature: Reading the Difficult

With the Canadian Institute for the Study of Antisemitism (CISA), Winnipeg, October 26 – December 14, 2014


Writing the Difficult course readings include a range of forms: memoirs, diaries, letters, addresses, minutes from meetings, historical accounts, interviews, transcriptions, short stories, novels, poems, fragments, and testimonies. In many we will explore what Ruth Franklin in her Introduction to A Thousand Darknesses, which we will read in Section I, the “graying of the line” (11) between fact and fiction, in worlds rendered through eye witness-memory and/or through acts of the imagination alone. Each involves complicated agreements between reader and narrator. These complexities will be part of our exploration of form.

Selected readings include both completed pieces and excerpts. There are eight sections in all. We’ll begin with Section I and stay as closely to the dates as given, though there will of course be carry over from one week to the next. We may find that we want to continue discussing a piece of writing, integrating our conversations about it with the next week’s selections. Certainly, readings from one section will resonate with readings from another. We will navigate time carefully so that we don’t compromise the time set aside for the writing workshops in the second hour of the course. It may be that we can’t discuss all of the readings; the hope is that we will explore significant areas that support creative thinking in conversation together and in writing.

As this is the first time for this offering, there is room for possibility. The course is for those who have written and those who have not, for those who have read Holocaust writing and those who have not. It provides frameworks, forms, and approaches which respond to the how writers have written about this particular catastrophe in the lives of a particular people whose experience preoccupies discussions of exclusion and devastation that have brutalized many.

Understanding the Jewish World through Film

With Dr. Catherine Chatterley, January 17 to March 6, 2016

Over a period of eight weeks, we will watch a variety of narrative and documentary films that address issues of significance to the Jewish world both past and present. After each film, course instructors will present additional material and facilitate a meaningful discussion of the film, its content, technique, and context.

The Life and Work of Elie Wiesel

With Dr. Catherine Chatterley, October 23 to November 27, 2016


Elie Wiesel was respected throughout the world as a tireless advocate for human rights and the well-being of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. His work as a teacher, writer, and activist was grounded in his personal experience of victimization under the Nazis during World War II and his postwar survival in the United States. Elie Wiesel accepted Dr. Chatterley’s invitation to become CISA’s honourary chairman in 2011, lending our work his crucial moral and intellectual support. This course is dedicated to his memory and legacy.

The course provides a comprehensive introduction to the life, work, and legacy of Elie Wiesel. He is the author of over sixty works of fiction and non-fiction, of which his Auschwitz memoir, Night, is the best known. Several of his works will be studied in class by Professor Deborah Schnitzer, while the historical context of Wiesel’s life and activism will be provided by Dr. Catherine Chatterley.

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