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ENGL3007 Holocaust Literature

Module Overview

How has the Holocaust been represented? We will examine a range of responses to the Holocaust from the 1940s to the present day, including memoirs of camp survivors and experimental texts. Focusing on the limits of representation we will approach questions concerning memory, trauma and the aestheticization of horror through testimony, fiction, poetry and film.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The module aims to introduce you to some of the most important texts about the Holocaust and to examine theoretical issues concerning the role of cultural representations in relation to the history of genocide.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The key theoretical debates surrounding the moral and representational challenges posed by the Holocaust
  • The relationship between history and memory.
  • Literary responses to individual and collective trauma.
  • The aestheticisation of horror.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Analyse and explain the ‘limits of representation’ in relation to Holocaust literature
  • Problematise the term ‘Holocaust literature’
  • Demonstrate confidence and independence of thought
  • Evaluate complex material and other critical opinions of Holocaust texts
  • Make connections across texts written from different perspectives
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Identify and draw upon a range of primary and secondary source materials
  • Analyse complex written texts and visual material including film
  • Present your ideas as oral and written presentations
  • Work effectively on your own and as part of a group
  • Challenge your preconceptions and offer a critical appraisal of other students’ work.


This module will examine some of the most important testimony, fiction and poetry which represents the horrors of the Second World War known as the Holocaust. It will bring together memoirs of camp survivors, written from a range of perspectives, with a variety of filmic, literary and experimental texts produced, in response to the Holocaust, from the 1940s to the present day. It will focus on the limits of representation, memory and trauma, and the aestheticisation of horror.

Special Features

Knowledge and understanding of the critical texts and contexts will be acquired through lectures, seminars and guided reading, and consolidated and assessed through research, group discussions, essay writing and the assessment of the essay. Seminars will provide a forum for discussion and the development of interpersonal skills; active participation will be encouraged to create a mutually enriching atmosphere. Class presentations will allow you to develop your knowledge and understanding of the subject and to enhance your oral and communication skills. The writing of the essay will test your understanding of the module’s aims and, where appropriate, your ability to construct an argument.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • lectures • seminars • consultation hours • individual feedback on assessed work • group work • visits to archives and museums. Participation on this trip/field visit is not a formal requirement of the module, though you are strongly encouraged to attend wherever possible. Learning activities include • reading and researching • preparing and delivering presentations • contributing to an online group project through the blackboard website • Visual and textual analysis • Formal essay This module includes a Learning Support Hour. This is a flexible weekly contact hour, designed to support and respond to the particular cohort taking the module from year to year. This hour will include (but not be limited to) activities such as language, theory and research skills classes; group work supervisions; assignment preparation and essay writing guidance; assignment consultations; feedback and feed-forward sessions. Innovative or special features of this module • One of the informal learning activities will be an online blog to which you will be required to contribute. You will be assigned one week and be asked to post a summary of either your seminar presentation, the lecture or the set reading for that week. You are encouraged, but not expected, to provide constructive feedback by way of peer-assessment.

Independent Study240
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Michael R. Marrus (1987). The Holocaust in History. 

Saul Friedlander, ed (1992). Probing the Limits of Representation: Nazism and the ‘Final Solution’. 

Lawrence Langer (1996). Admitting the Holocaust: Collected Essays. 

Michael Bernard-Donals and Richard Glejzer (2001). Between Witness and Testimony: the Holocaust and the Limits of Representation. 

James E. Young (1988). Writing and Rewriting the Holocaust: Narrative and the Consequences of Interpretation. 

Omar Bartov (1997). Murder in our Midst: The Holocaust, Industrial Killing and Representation. 

Robert Eaglestone (2004). The Holocaust and the Postmodern. 

Dominick LaCapra (1997). Representing the Holocaust: History, Theory, Trauma. 


Assessment Strategy

Assessments designed to provide informal, on-module feedback • In-class group discussion and oral presentations • On-going online peer-assessed group project




MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (3000 words) 65%
Examination  (2 hours) 35%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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