Class examines Holocaust history

By Kim Harris

One of the most tragic events in history is being examined in a new NIU course.

NIU’s honor program initiated a new course this fall titled, “Literary Imagination and the Holocaust.”

The three-credit-hour elective course is being taught by Steve Franklin, adjunct faculty member in English. The class meets from 6:00 to 8:40 p.m. Monday evenings in DuSable Hall.

The first half of this decade signifies the 50th anniversary of the Holocaust, the annihilation of six million Jews during Adolph Hitler’s reign. NIU offered the course to broaden knowledge of the event.

“I’ve always been interested in the subject and have read widely in Holocaust literature,” Franklin said.

Franklin also is a writer for NIU’s public information office. “I hope to find to what extent the literature brings this horrific experience into focus on a personal level.”

As preparation for the course, Franklin was sent to Washington, D.C. to study records at the new National Holocaust Memorial Museum.

“As far as I know, a class like this has never been offered before, and the Holocaust is arguably one of the worst events in history,” Franklin said.

The course will deal with all genres, including poetry, short fiction, novels, drama, films and essays. In addition, non-literary works from the library will be required reading.

Among the many readings are Elie Weisel’s, “The Night Trilogy,” Viktor Frankl’s, “Man’s Search for Meeting,” Paul Celan’s selected poems, essays by Primo Levi and poems by Nelly Sachs.

“Required readings will reflect in many ways the different perspectives of those who experienced the Holocaust or took it as their subject matter,” he explained. “Men and women, Americans and Europeans, survivors, complicitors and resistance.”

According to Franklin there are 18 students enrolled in the course. Although it is an honors course, it is an elective and it is possible that the course will be offered again next spring.

“This is not what one might call a pleasant course,” Franklin said. “It will demand a lot of the student.”

“I hope to find to what extent the literature brings this horrific experience into focus on a personal level.”

Steve Franklin

English adjunct faculty member