Discuss some contemporary phenomenon related to the issues of this course and write a research paper on the topic. (Citations should follow standard MLA style, as outlined in a previous handout and in the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.) Using the essays we have been reading as a model, be sure to establish a strong thesis and a clear argument that you then pursue in clearly connected ways over the course of the paper. Always support the claims you make by providing a close, detailed reading of the work or phenomenon you are analyzing. Avoid paraphrasing or vague generalities; instead, be sure always to analyze fully the significance of any point you make.
The paper is also a research paper, so I will expect you to use sources to support your arguments, including, if you wish, material from the course Reader. Be sure, however, never to give up your own critical voice to someone else. Outside material should never supplant your own argumentation. Also, just because something is published somewhere, does not mean it is the final word on a given issue. It should always be up to you to prove your own argument and you should not be afraid to argue against outside critics; you just need to do it convincingly. Remember that you have models of 'A' papers on the class web site, both of which do a good job using outside sources. You can find the link to these papers in the eighth week of class under "Additional Material." Some possible topics include but are not limited to the following:
MUSEUMS AND MEMORIALIZATION. For this one, you could analyze the Zell Holocaust Memorial and/or the Avenue of the Righteous, which you'll be visiting on April 5th. You might also like to analyze some other Holocaust memorial (for example, the U. S. Holocaust Memorial in Washington.) The visit of Prof. James E. Young, America's foremost specialist on the issue of Holocaust memorialization, should also prove useful. In addition, Prof. Robert Sovinski of Purdue's Landscape Architecture Department will be visiting on April 3rd to discuss memorials in Poland.
HATE SPEECH AND THE INTERNET or perhaps HOLOCAUST DENIERS. For this one, you could start by having a look at the HBO special that I will be putting on reserve at the Undergraduate Library this week: "Hate.com: Extremists on the Internet." Also of interest will be Michael Shermer, the plenary speaker for the Holocaust Memorial Conference. His talk, on Saturday, March 24th, is titled "Denying the Holocaust," which is also the title of his recent book.
NEO-NAZISM. One could explore neo-Nazism in the United States or in Europe. Of particular interest for this one will be the documentary Blood in the Face, which I will be showing later in the semester. You could also examine the issue of racism in Lafayette, highlighted recently by the anti-Semitic graffiti that appeared on a local building last month.
HOMOPHOBIA. You might be interested in exploring homophobia as a persistent prejudice in today's society, and the effects of this phenomenon. Notably the queer-rights movement has taken as its symbol the pink triangle, which homosexuals were forced to wear in Nazi concentration camps.
THE HISTORIKERSTREIT. You could analyze this debate over history, which we will be discussing in class on March 27 and 29.
CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY AND INTERNATIONAL LAW. Building on our very own Trial of Eichmann, you could explore the issue of international law: the difficulties of establishing the category (particularly perhaps in terms of the International Court that is currently being formed) or a specific case like the recent judgment that includes mass rape under the category of war crimes.
CULTURAL REPRESENTATION. You could also explore a particular cultural representation of the period as you did in the first paper (Brecht's The Private Life of the Master Race perhaps). I ask, however, that you clear such a topic with me so that I can be sure to have a look at the work myself.
NATIONALISM. Is it dangerous or necessary? If the former, how might you come to understand "identity" and "justice" without it? You could for example explore the issue of German or Israeli nationalism in light of Nazism and the Holocaust.
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