The academic worlds of death studies and Holocaust studies exist in tension, although they overlap. The former field deals with beliefs about the afterlife and ritual preparations for death, while the latter details conditions of mass death during World War II. There is seldom sustained reflection on the connections between these fields, which operate separately in academic circles. If the Holocaust appears in a death textbook, it is usually in a chapter on catastrophic mass death often lumped together with war and natural disasters.1 In contrast, Holocaust textbooks do not contain a chapter on death because it is pervasive and embedded in the particularity of historical events. I bridge death studies and Holocaust studies in my research and teaching in a religion department at a liberal arts college. My classes have included "Death and Beyond," "Jewish and Christian Responses to the Holocaust," and interdisciplinary first-year seminars on the Holocaust and genocide. One common obstacle in dealing with mortality in these classes is the fascination evoked by morbid subject matter, which can be perversely appealing; yet I have seen the seriousness of these topics open up deep levels of reflection and ethical concern.
Contribution to Book
Experiences of Death: Our Mortality and the HolocaustFacing Death: Confronting Mortality in the Holocaust and Ourselves
Document TypeContribution to Book
EditorSarah K. Pinnock
PublisherUniversity of Washington Press
Citation InformationPinnock, S. K. (2017). Experiences of death: Our mortality and the Holocaust. In S. K. Pinnock (Ed.), Facing death: Confronting mortality in the Holocaust and ourselves (pp. 113-127). Seattle: University of Washington Press.