Posted to NCTE-Talk, WCENTER, WPA, and
TechRhet on 04/09/02.
Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom Hashoah, is the 27th of Nisan
on the Hebrew calendar. I've
revised questions from the Rhetoric of
War List of Ten (the 23rd List) and added a few other questions
to create a list of writing assignments that focus on the Holocaust.
Originally Posted on the tengrrl.com site on April 09, 2002.
- [NAMING] Take a close look at the names that are being used for events, people, and things related to the Holocaust. As a start, think about who uses the word "Holocaust," who uses terms such as "Shoah," and who uses another word altogether. Look for other words that are used to name what happened and who was affected. Consider the connotation and the denotation of the words that are used. Choose a specific newspaper article, story, documentary film, website, or other resources and consider how several related names that are being used. In your paper, analyze this diction -- what is the purpose of such names? what audience are they pointed toward? what tone does the writer want to communicate to readers/listeners? what conclusions can you draw about the writer's rhetorical strategies?
- [PERSUASIVE TECHNIQUE] Choose a speech or statement of a person involved in the Holocaust or involved in Holocaust memorial projects today. You can choose a museum curator, a politician, a military speaker, an analyst, a relief agency, and so on. You need to find a specific statement rather than quotations from someone in a newspaper article or on television. Try to find at least 250 consecutive words as a minimum. Analyze the persuasive techniques that the author has used: How does the writer use logical, ethical, and emotional appeals? Has the writer incorporated any fallacies? How does the author address objections? How are counter-arguments used? Write a paper that explains your analysis of the speech or statement and draws some conclusions about the effectiveness of its persuasive techniques.
- [EVASION] Choose a speech or statement of a person involved in the Holocaust or involved in Holocaust memorial projects today. You can choose a museum curator, a politician, a military speaker, an analyst, a relief agency, and so on. You need to find a specific statement rather than quotations from someone in a newspaper article or on television. Try to find at least 250 consecutive words as a minimum. Look closely at the things that the speaker says in the speech or statement; then, step back and think of all the things that are NOT said. What issues has the writer avoided? What descriptions are missing? Which people are never mentioned? Who never speaks? What emotions are not dealt with? Write a paper that explains the absences in the text. Account for the writer's rhetorical purpose in avoiding these issues.
- [OBJECTIVE VS. SUBJECTIVE] For this assignment, you can focus on a news broadcast, a newspaper or magazine article, a news briefing, or another speech or statement about the Holocaust or about a present-day Holocaust memorial. Go through the text that you've chosen, and separate objective details and material from subjective details and material. When does the writer use objective details, and when does the writer rely on subjective details? Why do you think that the writer chooses to use one kind rather than the other? Write a paper that analyzes the ways that the writer uses these different kinds of details.
- [NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION] Analyze the nonverbal communication that in a film, newsreel, or series of photographs relating to the Holocaust . What gestures and mannerisms are used? What does the body language tell you about the issues and situations being discussed? What facial gestures are made? Are there sounds that those filmed make that seem more like nonverbal communication than words? Write a paper that explains your observations and suggests how the nonverbal communication affects the messages being conveyed. How does the nonverbal communication contribute (or detract from) this presentation of events in the Holocaust?
- [FIRST-HAND REPORTS] Compare two different first-hand reports of events that occurred during the Holocaust. Look at the things that the writers or speakers say, the things that are described, the emotions that are expressed, and the explanations for events that are given. Write a comparison/contrast paper that explores the relationships between the reports, and accounts for the reasons that the first-hand reports echo each other -- or diverge.
- [PICTURE THIS] Examine the way that pictures, graphics, and film are used to communicate information about the Holocaust. What role do these items fill? What rhetorical purpose do they serve? How do they relate to words about them -- is there a voice over? a sidebar with info? a caption? Is there any music or sound effect related to the pictures, graphics, or film? How do the parameters change with the author and audience for the piece -- for example, how are the pictures that are used in a government briefing different from those used on the evening news, shown on a newspaper web site, or on a relief agency's web site? Create a classification system that accounts for the kinds of pictures, graphics, and films that are used, when they are used, and the ways that they are used.
- [OBSERVATIONS] One Web page that explains Holocaust Remembrance Day asks the question, "How is it observed?" The page explains, "Since Yom Hashoah is a relatively new holiday, there are no set rules or rituals. What kind of ritual could represent the Holocaust?" Your job is to write a proposal for a Remembrance event at your school, a local community center, or similar forum. What kind of event will you plan? How long will the event last? What activities will take place? Your proposal will probably include the following parts: Introduction & Background, Objectives for the Remembrance, Implementation, and Costs. [Quotations from http://history1900s.about.com/library/holocaust/aa042398.htm]
- [REVIEW] Listen to, watch, or read a speech delivered by a politician during World War II that relates to the Holocaust. If you can, use a transcript of the speech to study the text more carefully. Write a review of the speech (just as you might write a book review or a movie review). Your job in this paper is to write a critical analysis of the speech — not just a summary. You'll explain what you heard, but you'll also talk about how well the speaker performed and how well the ideas in the speech were developed and supported. Begin by thinking about questions such as the following: What was the main point, or thesis, of the speech? How was it supported? Were the facts that were referred to valid? Were there holes in the logic or supporting information that was missing? Was the speech formal or informal? Did it suit the audience? Were terms and ideas explained appropriately for the audience? In what ways did the speech show (or fail to show) that the speaker was knowledgeable, had good judgement, and seemed reliable? Is the speaker persuasive — why or why not? Finally, how did the speech help you understand the specific events that the speaker discussed?
- [VICTIMS] Elie Wiesel, a survivor of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, wrote "They do not despair. The proof: they persist in surviving not only to survive, but to testify. The victims elect to become witnesses." Can you apply Wiesel's observation to the victims in the Holocaust literature that you're reading? In what ways do they testify? What rhetorical strategies do you see in the words of victims? When do they appear to logic, to ethics, and to emotion? Are there fallacies in their testimony? If they are witnesses, how reliable and persuasive are they? Write a paper that analyzes the testimony of these witnesses and draws some conclusions about the effectiveness of their persuasive techniques.