A Memorable History Lesson

June 8, 2010 5:43 AM

Tricia Travis

There was no “Sophie’s Choice” involved in deciding whether or not to take “The Holocaust in Film and Literature.” Given professor Brian Horowitz’s well-known flair for teaching and the course’s intriguing topic, there were ample reasons to enroll in this two-week summer course. Although the subject matter was somber, the course was an enthralling exploration of the circumstances surrounding such systematic persecution and murder.

Sophie's Choice

The 1982 film Sophie’s Choice, starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline, was one of the films discussed in Brian Horowitz’s course, “The Holocaust in Film and Literature.”

While the course is offered by the Jewish Studies program, the diversity of the students in the class suggested that the Holocaust was an event that touches the humanity of all people. The multiplicity of religious backgrounds represented in the classroom was surely integral to the wide range of perspectives and opinions shared in class.

Horowitz led discussions about an array of topics, including anti-Semitism, current Jewish affairs and how the Holocaust has been documented and portrayed in film and literature.

Along with Sophie’s Choice, the class studied films such as Fateless, Summer of Aviya, Shindler’s List, Night and Fog and Fighter. Their stories encompassed anti-Semitic acts around the world, Nazi concentration camps in Europe, and both personal and universal consequences of the Holocaust.

Poetry and short stories written by survivors of the Holocaust, which are anthologized in the textbook Art From the Ashes, provided students with real accounts that were at times both shocking and disturbing but in turn memorable and moving.

These accounts grow increasingly significant over time. As Horowitz suggested, as the number of survivors dwindles, it is important for events surrounding the Holocaust to be remembered in order to prevent hate crimes of any scale from happening again.

Tricia Travis is a senior majoring in French with a minor in film studies.


Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000