Memory & Memoirs of 20th Century Europe

Subject EURO20003 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2016.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 36 hours - 1 x 1 hour lecture and 1 x 2 hour tutorial per week
Total Time Commitment:

170 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects:
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:



Subject Overview:

The eye-witness account and the personal memoir offer powerful ways of exploring the human legacy of overwhelming historical events on individual lives. But how do literary genres like the memoir and autobiography manage to speak about unspeakable topics, how do they represent the unrepresentable and write about trauma? What is the function, and what the effect, of writing memory for the victim, for the reader, and for the perpetrator? How do the offspring of the victims and perpetrators "remember" their parents" traumas and shape memories of events they have only experienced second-hand? What is the relationship between fiction and memory in memoir writing and how do we read a testimonial of a Holocaust survivor that has been faked? This subject will introduce students to a selection of testimonial writing and films that tell individual stories of a shameful national past. It explores the effect of generic convention on the relation of history and memory, and the need for generic invention to speak trauma and tell the un-tellable. Its focus will be on the Holocaust, the Algerian War, and life under Eastern bloc communist regimes. This subject will focus on writing from France, Germany, and Italy in the first instance, but may from time to time include writing from other parts of Europe.

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this subject, students should:

  • be able to engage critically with different perspectives on European histories of violence and their genres and forms;
  • be able to communicate knowledge effectively about Europe’s present and past, and its traditions in oral and well-informed written assignments;
  • demonstrate a detailed knowledge of memoir and memory writing about traumatic pasts in 20th century Europe;
  • be able to consolidate research skills in the constituent disciplines of European memory studies, trauma studies and Holocaust studies and learn to contextualise;
  • demonstrate a broad understanding of the impact of Europe’s histories of violence in relation to second and third generation writing about the past and from the Americas and Australasia;
  • have acquired broad critical insights through their engagement with Europe that prepare them for becoming good global citizens;
  • be able to work effectively in groups to meet a shared goal with people whose disciplinary and cultural backgrounds differ from their own.
  • Mid-semester written assignment of 1,000 words [20%]
  • 1000 word group class paper of 10 minutes duration during semester [30%]
  • Final essay of 2000 words [50%]

Hurdle requirement: Students must attend a minimum of 75% of tutorials in order to pass this subject. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass the subject.

Note: Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per working day. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked.

Prescribed Texts:
  • If there is a Man (P Levi) Abacus by Sphere Books 1987
  • Everything is Illuminated (J S Foer) Penguin 2002
  • A Women in Berlin (Anonymous) Metropolitan Books 2005
  • Auschwitz and After (C Delbo) Yale University Press 1997
  • Additional material to be supplied by the department
Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students who successfully complete this subject should:

  • have enhanced their understanding of texts through reference to existing scholarship;
  • appreciate the cultural complexity of issues that circulate in the popular media;
  • be able to identify and explore issues across texts from different contexts;
  • be able to engage critically with texts in oral presentation;
  • be able to interpret in writing the meaning of literature with attention to social context and language.
Links to further information:
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: European Studies
Graduate Diploma in Arts - French
Graduate Diploma in Arts - Spanish and Latin American Studies
Spanish Major
Spanish and Latin American Studies
Spanish and Latin American Studies
Related Breadth Track(s): European Studies

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