Memory & Memoirs of 20th Century Europe

Subject EURO20003 (2012)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2012.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2012.

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

3 contact hours/week, 5.5 additional hours/week. Total of 8.5 hours per week.





Recommended Background Knowledge:


Non Allowed Subjects:

Students who have completed Memory & Memoirs of 20th Century Europe at Level 3 are not allowed to enrol in this subject.

Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Professor Alison Lewis

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.

  • read attentively some major first-person testimonials and memoirs from European history.
  • learn to contextualise memoirs of both victims and perpetrators of the Holocaust, the Algerian war and Eastern bloc communist regimes.
  • investigate the relationship between fiction and memory and history and memory in these texts.
  • understand the theoretical issues involved in a range of literary and cinematic genres that deal with memory.
  • deepen their understanding of trauma through the theoretical issues raised by its writing.

An essay of 3000 words 70% (due at the end of semester) and a 1000 word class paper of 10 minutes duration 30% (due during semester). A hurdle requirement of a reading diary.

Prescribed Texts:
  • If this is a Man (P Levil) Abacus by Sphere Books 1987
  • Pawel's Letters (M Maron) Harvill Press 2002
  • A Women in Berlin (Anonymous) Metropolitan Books 2005
  • After Auschwitz (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:
  • enhance their understanding of texts through reference to existing scholarship.
  • appreciate the cultural complexity of issues that circulate in the popular media.
  • identify and explore issues across texts from different contexts.
  • be able to engage critically with texts in oral presentation.
  • interpret in writing the meaning of literature with attention to social context and language.
Related Course(s): Diploma in Modern Languages (French)
Diploma in Modern Languages (Russian)
Diploma in Modern Languages (Spanish)
Diploma in Modern Languages - Swedish
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: European Studies
European Studies Major
Spanish Major
Spanish and Latin American Studies
Spanish and Latin American Studies
Spanish and Latin American Studies
Swedish Major

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