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< Curt C. and Else Silberman Faculty Seminar

2021 Curt C. and Else Silberman Online Faculty Seminar


SS general on trial in Riga for atrocities committed in the Baltic States. —Sovfoto

Teaching Mass Atrocity: The Holocaust, Genocide, and Justice

June 1–11, 2021

The 2021 Curt C. and Else Silberman Online Seminar for Faculty will bring the study of the Holocaust into conversation with studies of genocide and international justice for the purposes of opening an informed dialogue among scholars across disciplines, who utilize a range of approaches and methodologies in their classrooms. As a starting point, the Seminar will introduce pedagogical tools for teaching the history of the development of the concept of genocide with a critical look at Raphael Lemkin’s much-discussed coining of the term, the proceedings of the Nuremberg Trials, and the approval of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1948. Seminar leaders will facilitate discussions across disciplinary boundaries on how to address common themes relating to Holocaust and Genocide Studies, such as “othering,” violence, atrocity, justice, and restitution. The Seminar will also offer a range of pedagogical methods, course design approaches, and assignment development tools intended to help participants think through how to introduce these complex topics into their classrooms. At the same time, the Seminar leaders will problematize the various approaches to teaching this history within the separate—yet interconnected—fields of Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

The 2021 Curt C. and Else Silberman Seminar is designed to help faculty, instructors, and advanced PhD candidates who are currently teaching or preparing to teach courses that focus on or have a curricular component relating to Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Applications are welcome from instructors across academic disciplines including but not limited to: language studies, film studies, war studies, displaced people and refugee studies, human rights, genocide studies, anthropology, sociology, psychology, history, literature, and international law. We also particularly welcome scholars who teach courses with a global, comparative, or transnational approach. Over the course of the Seminar, participants will be introduced to sources in the Museum’s film, oral history, testimony, recorded sound, archival, and photography collections. Additionally, participants will virtually meet Museum staff scholars who work on the Holocaust, as well as experts from the Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for Genocide Prevention.

Seminar Leaders:

Dr. Douglas Irvin-Erickson is Assistant Professor and Director of the Lemkin Genocide Prevention Program at George Mason University School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. He has worked in the field of genocide studies and mass atrocity prevention in DR Congo, Burundi, Cambodia, Myanmar, Ukraine, and Argentina. He is the author of books, chapters, and articles on genocide, religion, and violence; human security; international criminal law; and political theory. His first book is titled Raphaël Lemkin and the Concept of Genocide (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017), and he is currently writing a second book on global successes of prevention. Professor Irvin-Erickson is a Senior Fellow with the Alliance for Peacebuilding, a Board Member of the Institute for the Study of Genocide, and a member of the editorial board of Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal. He holds a Ph.D. in Global Affairs and an M.A. in English Literature from Rutgers University in Newark, NJ.

Dr. Thomas Pegelow Kaplan is the Leon Levine Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies as well as Professor of History at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. A Holocaust scholar and German historian by training, his larger scholarly agenda aims at a cultural and linguistic history of genocidal violence in the modern world. He has taught at UNC-Chapel Hill, Grinnell College, Davidson College, and De La Salle University in Manila, Philippines. Professor Pegelow Kaplan has held research fellowships at numerous institutions in North America, Germany, and Israel, including the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the USHMM, the Center for Research on Anti-Semitism at the Technical University of Berlin, and Yad Vashem's International Institute for Holocaust Research in Jerusalem. He is the author of The Language of Nazi Genocide: Linguistic Violence and the Struggle of Germans of Jewish Ancestry (2011) and co-editor of Beyond 'Ordinary Men': Christopher R. Browning and Holocaust Historiography (2019) and Petitions Resisting Persecution: Negotiating Self-Determination and Survival of European Jews during the Holocaust (2020). Professor Pegelow Kaplan's forthcoming books include Naming Genocide: Protesters, Imageries of Mass Murder, and the Remaking of Memory in West Germany and the United States and Taking the Transnational Turn in the Face of Nazi Persecution: German Jewish Periodicals and Communication beyond German Borders, 1933-1943; and Holocaust Testimonies: Reassessing Survivors’ Voices and their Future in Challenging Times.

Seminar Format:

This Seminar will occur entirely online through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions over the course of two weeks. Participants can expect to attend no more than three hours of synchronous sessions in the virtual classroom per day. Additional daily asynchronous activities will include independent readings, pre-recorded lectures, and syllabus design work in small groups. All assigned readings and course materials will be made available to participants in advance of the program through the Seminar’s digital platform.

Application Details:

Seminar applicants can be at any career stage but  must be teaching or anticipate teaching relevant courses at accredited institutions in North America, including colleges, universities, and community colleges. Applications must include: (1) curriculum vitae; (2) a statement of the candidate’s specific interest in strengthening their background in Holocaust and Genocide Studies for the purpose of teaching; (3) a letter of support from a dissertation advisor, departmental chair, or dean addressing the candidate’s qualifications and the institution’s commitment to Holocaust and Genocide-related education; and (4) a draft syllabus with content relating to Holocaust studies and/or Genocide Studies that the candidate has taught or anticipates teaching.

Participants must commit to attending the entire Seminar. After the conclusion of the Seminar, participants are expected to submit a preliminary version of a revised syllabus. The Seminar will include designated working sessions for participants to revise and expand their syllabi content. Participants who complete all components of the Seminar will be provided with a $500 honorarium.

Applications must be received in electronic form no later than Monday, March 15, 2021. The application form is available here. Letters of support may be uploaded electronically or sent directly to Dr. Katharine White at

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Admission will be determined without regard to race, color, religion, sex, gender (sexual orientation or gender identity), national origin, age, disability, genetic information, or reprisal. The Museum also prohibits any form of workplace discrimination or harassment.

The Curt C. and Else Silberman Foundation endowed the Silberman Seminar for University Faculty in memory of Curt C. and Else Silberman.  The Foundation supports programs in higher education that promote, protect, and strengthen Jewish values in democracy, human rights, ethical leadership, and cultural pluralism.