Saying the Unsayable: How Film has Crafted an Enduring Memory of the Holocaust

Burton Atkins
History / Movies

Course Description

Elie Wiesel once suggested that filmed images can serve as an alternative language for trying to “say what is unsayable.” He was, of course, suggesting how a medium like cinema can craft a historical record of the Holocaust and speak in unique ways across generations. Films about the Holocaust have indeed explored a range of issues associated with the Third Reich’s “final solution” and have done so through documentary, dramatic and sometimes even comedic form. This presentation will draw on that tradition and, using clips from films such as Night and Fog, Judgment at Nuremberg, The Pawnbroker, and Denial, explore how movies serve as “visual texts” for examining the history and memory of the Holocaust.

About the Instructor

  • Burton Atkins, PhD, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Florida State University (FSU). Currently, he teaches political science at FAU and for Penn State University. In his 35-year career at FSU, Atkins taught a variety of courses on and wrote extensively about constitutional law and U.S. politics and served as chair of the political science department. He lived in London from 1992 to 1997 while serving as the Director of FSU's London Study Center and from 1997 until his retirement in 2006, he served as Director of the FSU International Affairs Program.