HIS4319 - Inventing Mass Extermination. The Holocaust and Genocidal Policies in the Twentieth Century
The course provides an introduction to a field which has recently come to be known as Comparative Genocide Studies, with a clear focus on the destruction of the European Jews by Nazi Germany. It will cover various protagonists in the Holocaust, not only perpetrators but also victims, bystanders, and collaborators, as well as a range of contexts in which mass extermination took place. Ideological prerequisites which fueled mass murder will figure alongside the post-war attempts to tackle the crimes by judicial means. With this basis established, a comparative perspective will be assumed by looking into other (modern) cases of mass extermination – from the murder of Turkish Armenians to the so-called ethnic cleansing during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s – which have been labelled genocides.
The course has two agendas. First, it will provide a firm empirical basis and understanding of the Holocaust as well as of its historiography. Second, by shedding light on other case studies, the relative merits of categories such as ‘genocide’ will be explored, and the question of political implications of terminology and definitions shall be discussed. The course will also look at its subject from different methodological angles. Standard textual sources will be employed along with audio and various visual materials; the ‘history of events’ will be accompanied by analysis of representations and discursive practices.
Students are expected to be:
- Acquire a sound understanding of the Holocaust, its protagonists and dynamics, as well as its historiography.
- Reflect on the analytical and political implications of terminology such as ‘genocide’ and differentiate between various usages.
- Compare different ‘genocides’ and discuss the merits of such comparative perspectives.
- Develop methodological skills to deal with a broad array of source materials.
- Develop skills to critically research, read, discuss, and write about a set of historiographical arguments and a variety of historical evidence.
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Recommended previous knowledge
A good ability to read, understand and write English is required for this course.
Teaching will be in twelve two-hour seminars, consisting of discussions, exercises, and group work, plus two two-hour meetings in which methodological issues will be discussed and practiced. Students are expected to attend all classes and prepare the compulsory reading for each class.
Compulsory assignment: Participants shall write an obligatory exposé (1.5 to 2 pages) on a topic of their choosing but within the framework of the course, to be submitted by the penultimate week of the course. If accepted – subject to possible revision – this will qualify for the final examination. More information will be given in class.
The final examination will take the form of a term paper:
- 5,000-6,000 words (approx. 10-12 pages).
- based on the exposé, students will choose their topic and research question with the help of the lecturer.
- the term paper is to be handed in in Fronter.
- the file must be submitted in pdf-format and we stress that the student is responsible for making sure that the files are readable. If you need assistance in converting your file into pdf, we recommend that you follow these instructions.
- The file must be named with your candidate number (not your name) and the course code (HIS2319 / HIS4319).
Use of sources and citation
Language of examination
The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.
Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.
Explanations and appeals
Resit an examination
Special examination arrangements
Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.
The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.