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The Holocaust Revisited - Jewish Reflections on the Holocaust: philosophy, art, literature, historiography


This course is an Honours Class and therefore only available for students of an honours college

Enrolling in this course is possible until the 27th of January, using the link at ‘registration’ during this period.


Sociologist and philosopher Theodor Adorno claimed that writing poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric. Yet Holocaust related art, literature, politics and history writing may be found everywhere. Learn more about the what and why of these manifestations in this course.

The Holocaust is viewed by many as the failure of European civilization and the teleological end of modernity. In this course we will discuss the aftermath of the Holocaust and its impact on Jewish philosophy, art, literature and historiography. Theodor Adorno, sociologist, philosopher and musicologist, claimed that to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric. And yet over the past 70 years manifold works of art, music and literature have been produced, not to mention the plethora of memorials and commemorative museums. How can one describe this event? Is it possible to be humorous or is this sacrilege?

World War II has become synonymous with the death of 6 million Jews. How has this identification taken place? What role does this play in the Zionist narrative? The Holocaust has become the central reference point in Israel and all foreign dignitaries pay their respects at Yad VaShem, yet in its founding years the State of Israel preferred to ignore this past, particularly the fate of the victims. Finally, the universal bill of human rights and the genocide convention were generated by the horror of World War II. However, in Europe today anti-Semitism is once more becoming salonfähig: what is the relationship between the Holocaust, the ”new” anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Can the bill of human rights protect the world’s citizens? Is there room in Europe for difference or is Europe once more headed down the road of stereotypes, discrimination and perhaps even a second Holocaust?


4-2 J. Frishman (Introduction)

11-2 R. Sneller (Suffering as the historical role of Judaism – H. Cohen)

18-2 E. Klaphek (Jewish thinking about the shoah in the shoah’s immediate aftermath – M. Susman)

25-2 Kal (post-Holocaust Jewish theology/philosophy)

3-3 N. Sznaider, Tel Aviv-Jaffo Academic College (Lemkin and Arendt on the Convention of Genocide and Universal Human Rights)

10-3 Kristal (Historians on the Holocaust)

24-3 G. Steunebrink (Adorno: writing poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric)

31-3 E. van Alphen (Artistic approaches I: choice of painting, sculpture, literature)

7-4 A. Schulte Nordholt (Artistic approaches II: literature)

14-4 Van de Laarse (memorials and museums)

21-4 I. Zertal (Holocaust and the State of Israel)

28-4 E. Gans (Holocaust, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia)

12-5 Conclusive conference, to be organised by the students

(guestlecturers with reservations)


Thursday 4, 11, 18, 25 February, 3, 10, 24, 31 March, 7, 14, 21, 28 April, 12 May; 11:00 – 13:00 hrs


Leiden University Institute of Area Studies (LIAS) and Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS) , Leiden

Assessment method

Final paper, oral presentations

Maximum number of students



Enrolling in this course is possible until 27 January via this link .


Dr. Rico Sneller