Oct. 3: Strassler Center offers first of year-long Truth in History series

postcard goldbergTruth is frequently categorized as absolute – something is true or it is not. Personal writing is a tremendous source of “true” information about the past. When historians gain access to primary documents – diary, memoir, or letter – they get excited. Such documents provide a unique view into history. Even so, we see with distorted vision. The writers’ attitudes, self-consciousness, personality, honesty, and motivation among other attributes, shape what they wrote. It is necessary, therefore to discuss how properly to understand what we read and see.

Enter Cutler Distinguished Visiting Scholar Professor Amos Goldberg.

As the first in a public lecture series sponsored by the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University, Professor Goldberg will present “The Challenge of Powerlessness: Writing History from the Victims' Perspective,” at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3, in the Rose Library, Cohen-Lasry House, 11 Hawthorne Street.

Professor Goldberg, who is a senior lecturer at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, will offer insight into the historian’s craft. Why is using Holocaust diaries as a source problematic? What makes writing about them complicated? And what are the ethical implications of these questions and their answers?

At this event, Professor Goldberg also will present his award-winning book “Trauma in First Person: Diary Writing during the Holocaust” (2012 Ben Gurion University Press), which seeks to lay bare the writers' search for meaning and understanding.

As Cutler Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Clark, Goldberg will visit undergraduate classes, meet with individual doctoral students, and help strengthen ties with Israeli institutions of higher learning. Through its support of the Strassler Center, the Melvin S. Cutler Endowed Fund aims to enrich Holocaust education in the Worcester area and cultivate the Strassler Center as a resource for local educators.

The Strassler Center will host two additional lectures in the Truth in History series:

  • March 13, 7 p.m., Rose Library. Ruth Franklin, a contributing editor at the New Republic, will discuss truth and fiction in Holocaust memoirs.
  • April 17, 7:30 p.m., Tilton Hall. Dr. Taner Akcam will explore a current debate in Armenian Genocide studies surrounding the veracity of a memoir by an Armenian member of the Turkish military.

Scholarship about genocide, mass atrocities, and crimes against humanity and their prevention stands at the core of the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Home to a uniquely rich undergraduate program and a landmark doctoral program, the Strassler Center is the first and only institute of its kind. Founded in 1998, the Strassler Center has now gained international stature. The Center's growth and development demonstrate how a small research university can achieve excellence and renown.

Clark University co-sponsors of the Amos Goldberg lecture include the History department, the Henry J. Leir Chair of the Foreign Languages and Literatures department, and the Higgins School of Humanities.

If you would like more information, please contact Sarah Cushman, Strassler Center Academic Program Liaison Officer, at 508-793-7764 or scushman@clarku.edu.