Genocide and Memory Studies Institute

Sponsored in part with generous help from The George and Irina Schaeffer Center for the Study of Genocide, Human Rights, and Conflict Prevention this unique summer institute offers students the opportunity to examine genocide, memorialization and collective memory making through different interdisciplinary lenses. During the June 3-week summer session, students can take Professor Brian Schiff’s course Shoah and Social Theory and/or Professor Charles Talcott’s The Museum as Medium. Professor Schiff’s course will focus on the psychological and sociological underpinnings of genocide as well as its legal definition through an exploration of the Shoah. Professor Talcott’s course looks at how museums help to construct national, cultural, and community identities with a special consideration of the ways museums create narratives of genocide.

Both courses will hold classes in Paris including special events and talks from invited speakers during the first two weeks of the summer session. Then, institute students will embark on a practical exploration of the ideas explored in their courses with a joint 5-day long trip to Poland led by Professors Schiff and Talcott. Students will spend time in Warsaw and Krakow, and the trip will include visits to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, Muzeum Treblinka, and the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews among other sites of memorialization.

Please note that both courses include an additional course fee and that because of the practicum visit to Poland, students who enroll Memory and Genocide Institute courses cannot enroll in other June 3-week courses or 6-week courses.



The Museum as Medium

In the Age of the Enlightenment, the classification and organization of facts and objects gave birth to the concept of the modern 'museum'. This course investigates the construction and communication of national, cultural, and community identities through the medium of the contemporary museum, where material culture is exhibited to express narratives that evoke particular definitions and interpretations of history and values. Please note that an additional fee will be charged for this course.

See CM 3037-3WK1 The Museum as Medium

Shoah and Social Theory 

More than 70 years after the annihilation of European Jewry, the Shoah remains a focal point of research and reflection on the problem of genocide. Although this course investigates the history of the Shoah, we concentrate on the social dynamics (ideological, structural, and situational) that made the Shoah possible. Bringing the tools of the social sciences to bear on the motives of, what Rothberg (2019) calls “implicated subjects,” students will grapple with classic and contemporary theories of violent action and their application to the historical circumstances of the genocide of European Jewry. How can we better understand the development of genocidal violence? What can the social sciences contribute to this understanding?

See PY2091-3WK1 Shoah and Social Theory