Dariusz Tolczyk, Associate Professor
The twentieth century was a period of humanity's unprecedented progress as well as its greatest downfall into barbarity, genocide, and mass oppression. This course enables students to study and reflect on the latter. For this purpose, we will confront a selection of outstanding literary and cinematic testimonies to the most extreme experiences of evil perpetrated by twentieth-century totalitarian regimes – genocide and dehumanization in concentration camps. We will explore horrors of the Holocaust and Nazi concentration camps, Stalinism and the Gulag, as well as Chinese Communist labor camps. We will ask, What lessons about human nature can we learn from these accounts of humanity’s most extreme ordeals? Do humans possess a unique capacity to be motivated by moral values even under the most dehumanizing conditions? What were the greatest challenges to humanity, posed by twentieth-century totalitarianism? How do we construct cultural memories of traumatic experiences? Why do we want to remember them? Do we?
Authors include Elie Wiesel, Tadeusz Borowski, Varlam Shalamov, Lydia Chukovskaya, Zhang Xianliang. Films include Nikita Mikhalkov’s “Burnt by the Sun,” Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist,” Ryszard Bugajski’s “Interrogation.” No prerequisites; all materials in English.
Last Modified: 03-Aug-2011 16:29:51 EDT
© Copyright 2013 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia