Title: Sociology and the Holocaust

Sociology 240, Spring 2006: E4TBA
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4:30-5:30 PM
Powdermaker Hall, Room 118
Mikaila Mariel Lemonik Arthur
Email: marthur AT ric DOT edu
Office Hours: By appointment only (before or after class are good times)

announcements about special events/oportunities
Supplementary Readings:
NYT on counting dead
                                    Census Forms
                                  Vrba Obituary

Download the complete syllabus in .pdf format
Archive of quiz questions
Downloadable copies of writing assignments
Discussion questions to guide your reading
Errors in the reading packet, including missing pages, are available here

Course Description:
The Holocaust was an extreme and a unique event in human history. But it was hardly a “historical accident”. Over a period of little more than a decade, Jews, homosexuals, Roma, political adversaries, and mentally and physically disabled people were systematically marginalized and later murdered. This immense act of destruction required the co-ordination of millions of peoples’ actions. How could this happen in the twentieth century, at the height of modern western civilization, in a country respected for its achievements in the arts, in literature and in philosophy?

This question remains challenging to us today. Have we fully understood what made this event possible? What are the implications of the fact that this happened for our assumptions about modern society? How can we as citizens learn lessons from the Holocaust and how do we include them in our everyday practice? The course asks systematically over the course of a semester: how could this happen and what can we learn about modern social life—including contemporary U.S. society—by looking at evidence about the Holocaust?
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  • Queens College Library Reserves Site--the password for the coursepage is art240. This page also shows you how to set up a proxy in your browser so you can access electronic materials from home.
  • Information about local Holocaust memorials, museums, and remembrance services.
  • Styleguide for writing and citations in sociology, based on the American Sociological Association writing guide.
  • Turnitin.com, the plagiarism detection service. The class ID is 1428124 and the password is yadvashem. You have to be registered for the site--to ensure that you are, please keep your email address current with me.
  • The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has a great encyclopedia on its website that can help you get started in researching many aspects of the Holocaust.
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Schedule of Classes, Readings, and Assignments
(readings marked "RP" are available in the photocopied reading packet)
Class Topic, Readings, and Assignments Due
Th 1/26
Introductory Meeting (no readings assigned)
Tu 1/31
Why Study the Holocaust in Sociology?
Weissmark, "Introduction" (RP)
Todorov, "Prologue"
Th 2/2
Simmel, "The Metropolis and Mental Life" (RP)
Baumann, "The Scandal of Ambivalence" (RP)
Tu 2/7
Browning, "The German Bureaucracy and the Holocaust" (RP)
Weber, "Bureaucracy" (RP)
Th 2/9
Gilman, "Are Jews White?" (RP)
Horkheimer & Adorno, "Elements of Anti-Semitism" (RP)
Tu 2/14
Why Germany?
Goldhagen, "Introduction" & "Explaining the Perpetrators' Actions" (RP)
Elias, "Introduction" (RP)
Th 2/16
Why Not?
Browning, "Ordinary Men" & "Afterword" (RP)
Tu 2/21
No Class
Th 2/23
No Class
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Tu 2/28
Arendt, "The Perplexities of the Rights of Man" (RP)
Krause, "Statelessness Today" (RP)
*First Paper Due
Th 3/2
International Aspects
Wyman, "Background" & "The War Refugee Board"
Tu 3/7
International Aspects II
Wyman, "Conclusion" & "Afterword"
Todorov, "The Perils of Judgment"
Th 3/9
The Concentration Camp
Todorov, "Neither Heros Nor Saints"
Tu 3/14
The Concentration Camp II
Todorov, "Neither Monsters Nor Beasts"
Th 3/16
The Logic of Profit
Marx, "Wage Labor and Capital" (RP)
Hilberg, "Aryanizations" (RP)
Tu 3/21
The Logic of Profit II
Pross, "Taking Stock" (RP)
Hays, "Commerce and Complicity" (RP)
Th 3/23
Census Technology
Aly and Roth, "Introduction," "Statistics on Jews," & "The Value of a Human Being" (RP)
Black, "France and Holland" (RP)
Tu 3/28
Proctor, "The Destruction of 'Lives Not Worth Living'" (RP)
Benedict, "Caring While Killing: Nursing in the Euthanasia Centers" (RP)
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Th 3/30
Medicine and Science
Misterlich, Excerpts from the Doctor's Trials (RP)
Cohen, "The Ethics of Using Data from Nazi Experiments" (available online only)
Tu 4/4
Arendt, "The Accused," "An Expert on the Jewish Question," "Duties of a Law-Abiding Citizen,"
     & "Judgment, Appeal, and Execution" (RP)
Th 4/6
Collaboration Versus Resistance
Glass, "Two Models of Political Organization: Collaboration Versus Resistance" (RP)
Todorov, "Nonviolence and Resignation" & "Forms of Combat"
Tu 4/11
Resistance and Solidarity
Tec, "Jewish Resistance in Belorussian Forests: Fighting and the Rescue of Jews by Jews" (RP)
Nieberger, "An Uncommon Bond of Friendship: Family and Survival in Auschwitz" (RP)
Th 4/13
No Class
Tu 4/18
No Class
Th 4/20
No Class
Tu 4/25
Varieties of Responses
Adorno, "Education After Auschwitz" (RP)
Todorov, "Telling, Judging, Understanding"
Attend a Yom HaShoah Service
*Second paper due
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Th 4/27
Segev, "Prologue: Ka-Tzetnik's Trip" (RP)
Speigelman, "Auschwitz (time flies)" (RP)
Tu 5/2
Misztal, "Theorizing Remembering" & "Memory and Trauma" (RP)
Young, "Introduction" (RP)
Th 5/4
Segev, "Holocaust and Heroism" (RP)
Young, Excerpts from The Texture of Memory & At Memory's Edge (RP)
Visit a Holocaust museum or memorial
Tu 5/9
Douglas, "Did Six Million Really Die? Holocaust Denial and the Law" (RP)
Shermer & Grobman, "How Deniers Distort History" (RP)
Th 5/11
Judgment and Consequences
Douglas, "Didactic Legality and Heroic Memory" (RP)
Douglas, "The Shrunken Head of Buchenwald" (RP)
Tu 5/16
Course Review and Summary
Todorov, "Notes on Morality"
*Third paper due
Tu 5/23
Final Exam
4-6 PM
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Copyright 2006 Mikaila Mariel Lemonik Arthur. Contact marthur AT ric DOT edu