Held annually during the first week of January, the Center’s Jack and Anita Hess Faculty Seminar is designed for college and university faculty who are teaching or preparing to teach Holocaust or Holocaust-related courses. The seminar is endowed by David and Edward Hess, in memory of their parents, Jack and Anita Hess, who believed passionately in the power of education to overcome racial and religious prejudice.
“[The] seminar was a great learning experience. I really appreciated the interdisciplinary nature of the topic, instructors, and the group. It fundamentally transformed the way I look at geography and history, and this will have a dramatic impact on my teaching and research on the Holocaust.”
—Professor Christopher Mauriello, Salem State College, Massachusetts
The Center is now accepting applications for the 2014 Hess Seminar, Holocaust Literature: Teaching Fiction and Poetry. Learn more.
2013: Teaching about the Holocaust: History, Memory, and Memorialization
The 2013 seminar examined the history, memory, and memorialization of the Holocaust by analyzing the intent, form, content, and context—as well as change and continuity—of Holocaust representation. Daily sessions explored Holocaust remembrance, and the construction of memory in literature and visual representation, by surveying memorialization and educational efforts at sites of destruction, at monuments, and in museums. James E. Young, Distinguished University Professor in English and Judaic Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and founding director of its Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies, led the seminar.
2012: Holocaust Geographies: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Teaching about the Holocaust
The 2012 seminar explored how the Holocaust created, changed, and destroyed places with particular meanings to those who inhabited them. Drawing on a range of primary sources and secondary literature, seminar participants examined a number of Holocaust landscapes (forest, ghetto, rail, camp, attic, road) in order to reveal how perpetrators made and remade the European landscape, how victims experienced (and reshaped) these landscapes, what bystanders witnessed there, and these sites’ postwar histories of commemoration and erasure.
Participants learned how to incorporate various kinds of geographical visualization into their own teaching about the Holocaust, including how to use historical maps in teaching and research, how to make simple maps, and how to use digital media to convey the geographic and spatio-temporal dimensions of the Holocaust to students and other audiences.
2011: Teaching about the Holocaust through EyeWitness Testimony: Using Interviews and Memoirs in the Classroom
The 2011 seminar explored pedagogic strategies, challenges, and opportunities when teaching with, and about, first-person accounts in university courses on the Holocaust. It consisted of presentations and discussions about the Holocaust, focusing on the varied collections of newly available eyewitness accounts. Daily sessions assessed the insights gained from eyewitnesses’ experiences and explored the teaching possibilities and challenges associated with using this rich repository.
Participants also received introductions to the Museum’s vast array of oral testimony holdings, including the Museum’s own considerable 9,000 videotaped oral histories, postwar memoirs, and rare book collections; the USC Shoah Foundation Institute Visual History Archive; the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies; the Yahad-In Unum Collection at the Museum; and the David Boder Oral History Interviews of Displaced Persons.
2010: The Holocaust in the Soviet Union: New Sources, New PerspectiveS for Use in Teaching
The 2010 seminar examined the Holocaust through case studies from Nazi-occupied areas of the Soviet Union and explored the actions, motivations, and responses of perpetrators, collaborators, bystanders, and victims to aspects of the genocide that have previously received less scholarly attention.
2009: The Holocaust and Other Genocides: Historical Contexts, Legal Issues, and Ethical Dilemmas
The 2009 seminar analyzed the Holocaust within the broader historical context of genocides of the modern era by focusing on the ethical dilemmas and legal issues surrounding these events. The seminar was co-led by John K. Roth, Edward J. Sexton Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Claremont McKenna College, and Donald Bloxham, Professor of Modern History at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom.
2008: The Holocaust: Perpetrators, Victims, and Bystanders
The 2008 seminar focused on the complex interactions between perpetrators, victims, and bystanders. Through presentations and discussions about the history of the Holocaust, the seminar examined the actions, interactions, and motivations of these three critical groups in Holocaust history. Special attention was given to the relationships among these groups, the “gray zones” between them, and the many people who fit more than one of those labels. Pedagogical sessions featured participant-facilitated discussions on classroom teaching methods and roundtable discussions on teaching strategies across multiple disciplines.
2007: Literature and the Holocaust
The 2007 seminar was designed for professors who are teaching or preparing to teach English, Jewish studies, literature, or other courses with a Holocaust-related literature component. The seminar included daily sessions of lectures and discussions of the principal works, latest approaches, newest techniques, and key pedagogical issues in the field; the use of Holocaust-related fiction and poetry in university-level courses; the ways in which the history and memory of the Holocaust are transmitted in literature; public reception of those transmissions; the relationship between oral testimony and literature; Jewish literary responses to the Holocaust by victims and survivors; and use of literature to confront the emotional trauma left behind after genocide.
The seminar was team-taught by Dr. David G. Roskies, Sol and Evelyn Henkind Professor and Chair of Jewish Literature and Culture at The Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, and Dr. Sara R. Horowitz, Director of the Centre for Jewish Studies and Professor of Humanities and English, at York University, Toronto, Ontario.
2006: Seminar for Faculty of Historically Black Colleges and Universities
The 2006 seminar was designed for professors at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) who are teaching or preparing to teach a Holocaust-related course, or who plan to expand a current course to include a significant Holocaust-related component. The seminar comprised daily thematic sessions covering topics such as Holocaust history and racial theory; Jews and other victims of the Nazis; the Black experience in Nazi Germany; the history of race in the United States; colonialism and racism; the minority experience as outsider or “other”; the impact on families and family dynamics; the issue of property and restitution; Black-Jewish relations; and memory of the Holocaust and memory of slavery and the slave trade.
Small group discussions, chaired by peer leaders, explored how to effectively integrate these issues and topics into specific courses taught at HBCUs. The seminar was team-taught by Dr. Mary Coleman, Professor of Political Science, Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts, and Director, Center for University Scholars, at Jackson State University, and Dr. Alan Steinweis, Rosenberg Associate Professor of History at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
2005: The Holocaust and Antisemitism in France
The 2005 seminar examined the prewar background of antisemitism in France, the Jewish refugee crisis of the 1930s, the antisemitic policies of the Vichy government, the role of public opinion in the Holocaust in France, Jewish responses to the Holocaust, and Holocaust memory and Holocaust denial in French national consciousness.
The seminar was led by Dr. Vicki Caron, Diann G. and Thomas A. Mann Professor of Modern Jewish Studies at Cornell University and 2005 J. B. and Maurice Shapiro Senior Scholar-in-Residence, and Dr. Henry Rousso, Director of the Institut d’Histoire du Temps Présent at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Professor of History at the University of Paris-Nanterre. Twenty-one professors teaching courses on 20th-century France participated.
2004: Seminar for Faculty of Hispanic-Serving Institutions
The 2004 seminar—the first to be endowed as the Jack and Anita Hess Seminar for Faculty—was designed for professors in history, social sciences, or the humanities who are teaching a Holocaust-related course at Hispanic-serving institutions or other institutions serving significant numbers of Hispanic students or who are preparing to teach a Holocaust-related course or expanding a current course to include Holocaust-related components.
The seminar was taught by Dr. Wolf Gruner, Distinguished Visiting Professor at Webster University in Missouri, and Dr. Elaine Leeder, Dean of the School of Social Sciences at Sonoma State University in California. The seminar featured lectures and discussions on Holocaust history, in conjunction with broader academic perspectives, including literature and music as transmitters of heritage, as well as social and political strategies adopted by individuals and communities in the midst of ethnic violence, victimization, and exile.
2003: Theology, Ethics, Religion, and the Holocaust
The 2003 seminar featured sessions on the history of anti-Judaism and antisemitism, churches and the Holocaust, the Holocaust and contemporary general ethics, and debates on the actions of religious figures during the Holocaust. Attended by 16 faculty members from universities and seminaries throughout the United States, the seminar was taught by Fr. John T. Pawlikowski, Professor of Social Ethics and Director of Catholic Jewish Studies at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.
2002: The History and Development of the Concentration Camp System
Professor Emeritus Henry Friedlander led the 2002 seminar for faculty teaching Holocaust-related courses.
2001: Seminar for Faculty of Historically Black Colleges and Universities
The 2001 seminar featured the following sessions: “Hitler’s Rise to Power and the Consolidation of Nazi Rule,” “Toward a War for Race and Space, 1936–1941,” “From the Peak Years of Killing to the Collapse of the Third Reich,” and “The Aftermath and Legacy of the Holocaust.” Attended by 13 faculty members from historically black colleges and universities, the seminar was taught by Dr. Doris Bergen, Professor of History at Notre Dame University.
2000: The Holocaust in Poland
The 2000 seminar featured lectures and discussions on topics such as Poland between the wars; the Polish question during World War II; Polish society, Polish-Jewish relations and the Holocaust; the aftermath of the Holocaust on Polish lands; and the memory of the Holocaust. Attended by 17 professors either teaching or preparing to teach a 20th-century history course on Poland, the seminar was taught by Dr. Antony Polonsky, Albert Abramson Professor of Holocaust Studies at Brandeis University.