Trent University Durham GTA, 2018-19.

Professor Robert Wright

Office: Thornton 167   Email:   Tel: 905 435 5102 x 5046

Room 107

Office Hours: Mondays, noon - 2 p.m., or by appointment.

Department of History
1600 West Bank Drive, LEC, Peterborough, ON K9J 7B8
(705) 748-1011,

Secretary: Joan Sirtonski 905-435-5102 x 5057


This version of the syllabus was posted on 14 April 2018.  Subject to revision.

History 3310Y/4310Y explores the Nazi Holocaust and its implications for modern culture.  The course will meet as a seminar weekly, between 9 a.m. and noon on Tuesdays for the full year 2018-19.  Each student will be expected to make one seminar presentation, to a maximum of 20 minutes' duration, in which s/he will assess critically the week's designated readings.  These presentations will serve as a springboard for a general discussion with all members of the seminar.  Click here for Wright's tips on seminar preparation.  Non-presenting students will be expected to read and reflect on assigned readings and to come to class prepared to discuss them critically.  Students' participation grades will be based on the quality of their contributions, not the quantity.  Participation grading will be consistent with Trent University standards for academic integrity, professionalism and accountability.  Insofar as seminar participation represents a significant proportion of students' overall grade in the course, the importance of thorough preparation and regular attendance should be underscored.

Learning Outcomes

As a cross-listed third- and fourth-year seminar course, History 3310Y/4310Y provides students with the opportunity to explore the Nazi Holocaust in depth, both through class discussion of scholarship in the field and through advanced independent research.  Students should be able to use their advanced knowledge of the field and skills in critical thinking, historical writing, historical approaches and methodologies to conduct research using primary and secondary sources, produce an original analytical argument based on the evidence, and situate it in the appropriate historiographical and theoretical contexts.  Students should be able to communicate their arguments to the instructor and their peers with clarity, accuracy, and logic through major research papers and class presentations.  Upon completing the course successfully, students should understand the conventions of historical writing, the rules of academic integrity and professionalism, the importance of personal initiative and accountability, and the evolving nature of historical knowledge.  They should also be able to evaluate historical writing effectively through examinations of sources, arguments, and methodologies.

Course Evaluation

0%    Review prospectus, due ___ October 2018.

15%   Book review, due ___ December 2018.

10%   Research prospectus, due ___ February 2019.

45%  Research paper, due ___ March 2019.

20%  Seminar participation.

10%   Seminar presentation.


Selected chapters of the following books will be required reading in History 3310Y/4310.  Note: books listed as required readings are not required purchases.  Copies of all required readings not available online will be placed on reserve at the Trent Durham GTA Library, so if you lack either the resources or the inclination to purchase these books, there will be other ways of keeping up with your readings.

Browning, Christopher R.  Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland.  New York: HarperCollins, 1992.  ISBN 9780060995065.  Buy it new.  Buy a used copy.

Finkelstein, Norman G.  The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering.  New York: Verso, 2001.  ISBN 9781859847732.  Buy it new.  Buy a used copy.

Levi, Primo.  Survival in Auschwitz: The Nazi Assault on Humanity.  New York: Collins, 1961.  ISBN 9780684826806.  Buy it new.  Buy a used copy.

Nyiszli, Miklos.  Auschwitz.  New York: Arcade 1993; originally published in 1960.  ISBN 9781559702027.  Buy it new.  Buy a used copy.

Wistrich, Robert S.  Hitler and the Holocaust.   New York: Modern Library, 2002.  ISBN 9780812968637.  Buy it new.  Buy a used copy.

All other required readings in this course take the form of scholarly articles, which can be accessed online.

Review Essay

The first written assignment will be a critical review essay, i.e. a review of three or four related scholarly books.  The total number of book pages under review should be approximately 800.

Note: a book review is not a book report.  The purpose of a review or review essay is not merely to describe the contents of books in narrative form but to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of books, to estimate their contribution(s) to knowledge, to assess their relationship to each other and to the scholarly field in question, and to provide an opinion to their prospective readers of their general worth.  Click here for Wright's tips on writing book reviews.  Click here to read a sample review essay.

A review prospectus will be required, containing a full bibliographic citation for each of the books you plan to review.  Books listed as required readings for this course are ineligible for review.  The review prospectus will not be graded but it must be submitted in advance of the review essay.  The review essay must conform to the book list as selected by the student and as "customized" by the student and the instructor.  If it does not, the student will receive a grade of zero on the review essay.

Fourth-year students will be held to a higher standard of writing and analysis than third-year students.

Both the review prospectus and the review essay should be submitted via email.  Click here for Wright's formatting guidelines for electronic submissions.

Length: 2000 words for History 3310Y; 3000 words for History 4310Y.

Due dates: review prospectus ___ October 2018; review ___ December 2018.

Research Paper

The research paper has been conceived with two primary objectives in mind.  The first is to acquaint students more closely than has been the case thus far with the scholarly literature in an area of historical study which is of special interest to the student.  The second is to acquaint students with some of the processes by which historians conduct original research.
Students may select topics of their own choice, with the proviso that each student must submit a prospectus in advance of her/his essay, in which s/he must specify the nature and scope of her/his topic, as well as the resources s/he plans to use.  A thorough prospectus will include a short synopsis of a student's aims, as well as a bibliography of sources.
The purpose of the prospectus is two-fold: it will allow the instructor to consider the proposal of the student and to make specific recommendations about sources and approaches that might be used (thus creating between student and instructor a "customized" topic); and it will provide a medium by which the student and the instructor can maintain close contact about the progress of the research.
The prospectus will be graded and must, therefore, be submitted in advance of the research paper.  The paper must conform to the topic as selected by the student and as "customized" by the student and the instructor.  If it does not, the student will receive a grade of zero on both the prospectus and the paper. 
Both the research prospectus and the research paper should be submitted via email.  Click here for instructions on formatting and emailing assignments.  Click here for some tips on writing essays.  Fourth-year students will be held to a higher standard of writing and analysis than third-year students.  Third-year students must utilize a minimum of twelve scholarly sources; fourth-year students must utilize a minimum of fifteen scholarly sources.
Length: 4000 words for History 3310Y; 6000 words for History 4310Y.
Due dates: research prospectus ___ February 2019; research paper ___ March 2019.

Final Examination

There will be no examinations in this course.

Late Policy
There will be no penalties for late submissions, but students will not be granted extensions beyond 6 April 2018 without official (e.g. medical) documentation.

Academic Integrity

Academic dishonesty, which includes plagiarism and cheating, is an extremely serious academic offence and carries penalties varying from a 0 grade on an assignment to expulsion from the University.  Definitions, penalties, and procedures for dealing with plagiarism and cheating are set out in Trent University’s Academic Integrity Policy.  You have a responsibility to educate yourself – unfamiliarity with the policy is not an excuse.  You are strongly encouraged to visit Trent’s Academic Integrity website to learn more.

For Wright's policy on plagiarism, click here.

Access to Instruction

It is Trent University's intent to create an inclusive learning environment.  If a Trent Oshawa student has a disability and/or health consideration and feels that he/she may need accommodations to succeed in this course, s/he should visit the Student Accessibility Services at Room 111 or call (905) 435-5100. 

Dropping Courses

Please see the Trent University Academic Calendar for University Diary dates, Academic Information and Regulations, and University and departmental degree requirements.


Seminar:  Introduction to the course.
Student responsibilities before next class:

1.  If you have not already done so, email me with your preferred email address.  Place your name and course number in the subject field exactly like this:

Jones, Stephen  HIST 4310

2.  Think about at least three seminars you would be willing to present.  Do not email me with your selections.  We will assign each student one presentation in class.

Film: The Architecture of Doom.
Seminar: Discussion of film.

Seminar: Background.
Required reading: Robert S. Wistrich, Hitler and the Holocaust.  

Seminar: No Hitler, No Holocaust?
Required readings: Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (1927), Chapter 2 "Years of Study and Suffering In Vienna"; David Ian Hall, "Wagner, Hitler, and Germany’s Rebirth after the First World War" War in History 24:2 (2017), 154-175; and Dan Stone, "Nazi Race Ideologues" Patterns of Prejudice 50:4-5 (2016), 445–457.

Seminar: Eugenics.
Required reading: Philip R. Reilly, "Eugenics and Involuntary Sterilization: 1907–2015" Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics 16 (2015), 351–68; Todd M. Endelman, "Anglo-Jewish Scientists and the Science of Race" Jewish Social Studies 11:1 (Fall 2004), 52–92; and Ian Dowbiggin, "A Rational Coalition: Euthanasia, Eugenics, and Birth Control in America, 1940–1970" Journal of Policy History 14:3 (2002), 223-260.

Seminar: The Nazification of Germany.
Required reading: Friedrich Reck, Diary Of A Man In Despair (1947).

October.  Reading Week.

Review prospectus due via email.  Click here for instructions on formatting and emailing assignments.  Click here for some tips on writing reviews.

Seminar: Concentration Camps & Resistance.
Required readings: Eric D. Miller, "Making Sense of the Brutality of the Holocaust: Critical Themes and New Perspectives" Journal of Psychology 151:1 (2017), 88-106; Aime Bonifas, "A Paradisical Ghetto of Theresienstadt: The Impossible Mission of the International Committee" Journal of Church & State 34:4 (Autumn 1992), 805-819; and Aaron Kramer, "Creative Defiance in a Death-Camp" Journal of Humanistic Psychology 38:1 (Winter 1998).  Kramer writes: "The most stunning example at Terezin - and perhaps in all history - of cultural defiance is offered by Peter Kien and Viktor Ullmann, who created The Emperor of Atlantis."  To listen to a portion of this extraordinary opera, click here.

Seminar: Women in the Holocaust.
Required readings:  Joan Miriam Ringelheim, "The Unethical and the Unspeakable: Women and the Holocaust" Simon Wiesenthal Center Annual 1 (1997); Beverley Chalmers, "Jewish Women’s Sexual Behaviour and Sexualized Abuse During the Nazi Era" Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality 24:2 (2015), 184–196; and Nicole Bogue, "The Concentration Camp Brothels in Memory" Holocaust Studies 22:2-3 (2016), 208–227.

Seminar: Ordinary Women.
Required readings: Suzanne Ost, "Doctors and Nurses of Death: A Case Study of Eugenically Motivated Killing under the Nazi ‘Euthanasia’ Programme" Liverpool Law Review 27:5 (Spring 2006), 5-30; Susan Benedict, Arthur Caplan & Traute Lafrenz Page, “Duty And ‘Euthanasia’: The Nurses of Meseritz-Obrawalde” Nursing Ethics 14:6 (2007), 781-794; and Susan Benedict and Jane M. Georges, "Nurses and the Sterilization Experiments of Auschwitz: A Postmodernist Perspective" Nursing Inquiry 13:4 (2006), 277-288.

Seminar: Ordinary Men.
Required reading: Christopher R. Browning, Ordinary Men.

Film: Conspiracy.
Seminar: Discussion of film.  
NB: This will be a combined seminar, starting at 9:15 a.m.

Review essay due via email.  Click here for instructions on formatting and emailing assignments.  Click here for some tips on reviews.

Mid-Year Holiday.  No classes.

Seminar: Auschwitz II.
Required reading: Miklos Nyiszli, Auschwitz.

Film: The Grey Zone.
Seminar: Discussion of film.  
NB: This will be a combined seminar, starting at 9:30 am.

Seminar: Auschwitz I.
Required reading: Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz.

Seminar: Ethics.
Required readings: Robert S. Pozos, "Nazi Hypothermia Research: Should the Data be Used?" Military Medical Ethics 2 (2003), 437-461; Robert N. Proctor, "Nazi Science And Nazi Medical Ethics: Some Myths And Misconceptions" Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 43:3 (Spring 2000), 335-346; and Warren T. Reich, "The Care-Based Ethic of Nazi Medicine and the Moral Importance of What We Care About" American Journal of Bioethics 1:1 (Winter 2001), 64-74.

Review prospectus due via email.  Click here for instructions on formatting and emailing assignments.  Click here for some tips on writing reviews.

Seminar: The Holocaust in Popular Culture.
NB: Remember to watch Schindler's List prior to this seminar.
Required readings: Brigitte Sion, "Memorial Pilgrimage Or Death Tourism? A Jewish Perspective" Liturgy 32:3 (2017), 23–28; J. John Lennon & Malcolm Foley, "Interpretation of the Unimaginable: The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C., and Dark Tourism" Journal of Travel Research 38:1 (August 1999), 46-51; Geoff Eley & Atina Grossmann, "Watching Schindler's List: Not the Last Word" New German Critique 71 (Spring/ Summer 1997), 41-63.

Seminar: History & Memory.
Required readings: Raphael Gross, "Relegating Nazism to the Past: Expressions of German Guilt in 1945 and Beyond" German History 25:2 (2007), 219-238; John Torpey, "Making Whole What Has Been Smashed: Reflections On Reparations" Journal of Modern History 73:2 (June 2001), 333-359; Mark Milke, "Memo to Tourists: Dachau is not Disneyland" Maclean's (June 12, 2017); "Opinion: Should school trips to Auschwitz be mandatory in Germany?" Deutsche Welle (January 14, 2018); "Poland's president to sign Holocaust speech bill into law, defying critics" Thomson Reuters (February 6, 2018); "US adults rapidly forgetting the Holocaust" Deutsche Welle (April 12, 2018); "Executive Summary: The Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness Study" Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (February 2018).

February.  Reading Week.

Seminar: Holocaust Denial.
Required readings: Brian Levin, "History as a Weapon: How Extremists Deny the Holocaust in North America" American Behavioral Scientist 44:6 (February 2001), 1001-1032; Matthew Feldman & John Pollard, "The Ideologues and Ideologies of the Radical Right: An Introduction" Patterns of Prejudice 50:4-5 (2016), 327–336; and Nitza Davidovitch and Nissim Dana, "The Holocaust Paradox: Holocaust Denial and Its Use in the Arab World" Israel Affairs 23:2 (2017), 411–426.

Seminar: Rwanda.
Required readings: Helen M. Hintjens, "Explaining the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda" Journal of Modern African Studies 37:2 (June, 1999), 241-286; and Alan J. Kuperman, "Rwanda in Retrospect" Foreign Affairs 79:1 (January/ February 2000), 94-118.

Research paper due via email.  Click here for instructions on formatting and emailing assignments.  Click here for some tips on essay preparation.

Seminar: The Holocaust Industry.
Required reading: Norman G. Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry.

April 2019, 11:59 p.m. 
Departmental deadline.  If you need an extension beyond this date, you will require medical or other official documentation.