Description of Course Goals and Curriculum
This course examines the experiences of childhood & adolescence, both male and female, under the Nazis in World War II as witnessed, remembered, and represented, through a variety of means & genres in text and image. Among these are historical studies, diaries, testimonies, memoirs, fiction (semi-autobiographical or otherwise), and film (documentary and feature) of 1st and 2d generations. The focus is on the fate of Jewish youth, who were specific targets of genocidal policy, not just unintended victims, but the course also attends to others in the occupied countries as well as in Germany itself.
The exploration of the perspective of youth living during the Nazi rule in WWII is intense. Professor Zeitlin’s curriculum provides an incredible variety of points of view within the realm of youth. She is unbelievably knowledgable about every aspect of the time period from literature to film to photography to the most recent research. There is much to learn from the synthesis of watching films, reading books, and discussing both in class. Each week the literature and film shift to a different voice, overall going through 11 different ways people have described their experience as a youth under the Nazis in World War II. For example, the first week begins with a look at diaries, one of the later weeks looks at anti-fairy tales, and the last week discusses the Second Generation. Professor Zeitlin has read an incredible amount of the literature and watched nearly all of the films related to the topic; so her literature and film choices are all very well constructed works.
Learning From Classroom Instruction
1. Film related to Youth effected by the Nazis in WWII
As a class (at the beginning of the week) we met at night to watch the film. It is mandatory that you watch the film with the class, but you can contact Professor Zeitlin if you have an unmovable conflict. There is no discussion before or after the film; rather, it is discussed in class a few days later. It is helpful to take notes while watching the film in order to write a substantive film journal (described below).
2. 2 hour and 50 minute seminar
In the seminar (end of the week) we discuss the film we watched the previous week, the readings for the week, and the connections between the two. Froma often brings in some sort of photographs or film that expands on something in the film or in the readings. It is also common that we rewatch key moments in the film. You will always be prepared to participate in discussion because before class every week a response paper (described below) is due. Make sure to bring and extra copy of your response paper with you, because you have already gone through the effort of organizing your thoughts and questions within it, and it can be helpful for contributing to discussion.
Learning For and From Assignments
1. Weekly- 2 page comments/questions/reactions on the reading assignment (15% of grade- ungraded but required)
Every week, prior to class (it must be submitted in advance), you turn in a 2 page response to the readings. This response is not meant to be extremely formal, but rather gives you a chance to flesh out your thoughts and questions so that you can bring them into discussion in class. Although Professor Zeitlin does not grade these, she does read them and send you a response to your questions and thoughts. You will learn a lot more if you take the time to write thoughtful responses every week because Professor Zeitlin is a fountain of knowledge. She provides great insight into your question and on your thoughts.
2. Midterm Paper- 6-8 pages (20% of grade)
Professor Zeitlin provides you with all the room you want to explore something of your interest in your paper. She gives out a list of possible topics, but you can also meet with her if you have something else in mind. You are welcome to also expand on ideas which you discussed in one or two of your weekly response papers. Between the films, readings, and class discussions, there is no shortage of intriguing ideas to explore in your paper. I would recommend meeting with Professor Zeitlin to bounce your paper ideas off of her, because she can provide great guidance or suggestions on ways to synthesize the ideas you have from the films and from the readings. If you write about a film on this paper then you must write about readings on the next paper.
3. Deans Date- Film Journal (35% of grade)
At the end of the semester you turn in a film journal. The film journal is composed of your reactions and analysis to each film (in total 11 films throughout the semester). It is easiest if you write these reflections right after watching the film. I would recommend taking notes on the film (your reactions, the visual tools being used, the character's actions, what is being said- basically anything that is notable to you as you watch it). This way, when you go to write your film journal you can reference key moments, and possibly go back to the film (they are all on blackboard) and take a screenshot of the moments that struck you, and include those in your journal. Taking notes also gives you the leeway to write your film journal at a later point. Due to the nature of the topic, the films are emotionally taxing, so you might feel far too drained to write up your response right after watching the film. This being said, be careful to not put off writing your film response, because the longer you wait the less you remember, and then it might become necessary for you to watch the film again in order to understand your notes.
4. Deans Date- Final Paper/Project- 9-12 pages (30% of grade)
The logistics of this paper are the same as the midterm paper, it is just slightly longer. If you wrote about a film on the previous paper than you can not write about a film on this paper. You can write about readings both times if you would like. Yet again, I highly recommend that you run your idea by Professor Zeitlin.
Professor Zeitlin is willing to meet with you by appointment outside of class. She is a truly inspirational woman with a wealth of knowledge, so don’t miss out on the chance to meet with her to discuss your questions and papers. Additionally, all of the films watched at the beginning of the week are online, don’t forget about this, and take advantage of your ability to go back and rewatch parts, especially if you are writing a paper on one of them.
What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course Selection
This class has a lot of components and you get a lot more out of it the more time you are able to put into it. So make sure that you will have time in your course schedule to spend time on the outside of class work.