Title: Sociology and the Holocaust

Sociology 344, Spring 2008
Thursdays 1-4 PM
LIB 215
Mikaila Mariel Lemonik Arthur
Email: marthur AT ric DOT edu
Office: 113 South Court, x 4219
Office Hours: Drop-in hours Tuesday 1-4.
Appointments available Tuesday and Thursday 10:30-11:30 Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday after 4; and other times if necessary.

Download the complete syllabus in .pdf format
Downloadable copies of writing assignments
Guidelines and questions for the analytical reading responses
Discussion questions to help guide your reading

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?

  • 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. If you are not familiar with Holocaust history, I'd encourage you to spend some time with this website to orient yourself to the historical background behind what we will discuss in class.
  • For class on April 24th, you should visit the websites of various Holocaust museums and memorials. This page provides links to many of these.
  • If you need a refresher on sociological citation formats, a style guide is available.
  • Internet research materials are available on the research links page; google and other standard internet research techniques are especially unreliable in conducting Holocaust research and are likely to result in locating error-laden or fraudulent information or sites run by Holocaust deniers.
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Copyright 2007 Mikaila Mariel Lemonik Arthur.