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Unit information: Holocaust Landscapes (Level H Lecture Response) in 2018/19

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Unit name Holocaust Landscapes (Level H Lecture Response)
Unit code HIST39009
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Tim Cole
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit explores the Holocaust and Holocaust memory through the lens of spatial history. Doing so aims to raise new questions in three main areas:

  • Firstly, how does thinking spatially help us better understand the broader story of a genocide that was enacted across the European continent over a number of years? How – and why – did the genocide change shape? How does thinking geographically about the Holocaust focus renewed attention on its history (or chronology)? How far was genocide not only enacted in space but also through space?
  • Secondly, how do spatial concepts help us to better understand victim experiences during the Holocaust? How did victims exercise agency within the midst of genocide, and what spatial forms did this take? How far were Holocaust landscapes gendered?
  • Thirdly, what has happened to the places where the Holocaust was enacted in the post-war world? How – and why – have they variously been memorialised or erased? Who has – and does – visit these sites and why?

We will adopt a broadly chronological, thematic approach, exploring a number of different landscapes where the Holocaust was enacted, experienced, and has been remembered and forgotten. We will move from Germany in the late 1930s, eastwards to occupied Poland and the Soviet Union, before heading westwards again ending up in Germany in 1945. As we examine this genocide that was constantly on the move we will explore what unfolded in ghettos, forests, train cars, camps, attics and cellars, mountains and sea, rivers and roads, and we will also consider what has happened to those material sites in the post-war years.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have achieved:

  • a wider historical knowledge of a range of periods/geographical areas/themes
  • a deeper awareness of how to approach a long term historical analysis
  • the ability to set individual issues within their longer term historical context
  • the ability to analyse and generalise about issues of continuity and change
  • the ability to select pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate more general historical points
  • the ability to derive benefit from and contribute effectively to large group discussion
  • the ability to identify a particular academic interpretation, evaluate it critically and form an individual viewpoint.

Teaching details

  • Weekly 2-hour interactive lecture sessions
  • Tutorial feedback on essay
  • Access to tutorial consultation with unit tutor in office hours

Assessment Details

1 x 3000 word essay (50%) and 1 x 2 hour exam (50%)

Reading and References

  • Andrew Charlesworth, ‘The Topography of Genocide’ in Dan Stone (ed.), The Historiography of the Holocaust (Houndmills, 2004)
  • Tim Cole, Holocaust Landscapes (London, 2016)
  • Paolo Giaccaria and Claudio Minca (eds.), Hitler’s Geographies (Chicago, 2016)
  • Anne Kelly Knowles, Tim Cole and Alberto Giordano, Geographies of the Holocaust (Bloomington, 2014)
  • James E. Young, The Texture of Memory (New Haven: 1993)