The Dark Side of the Twentieth Century

Course Code
SLAV 2250
Dariusz Tolczyk

The twentieth century was a period of humanity's unprecedented progress as well as its greatest recorded downfall into barbarity, genocide, and mass oppression. This course enables students to study and reflect on the latter. We will read outstanding first-hand narratives of horrors of Stalinism and the Gulag (Lydia Chukovskaya, Varlam Shalamov), the Holocaust and Nazi concentration camps (Elie Wiesel, Tadeusz Borowski, Hanna Krall) and Chinese Communist labor camps (Zhang Xianliang). All readings will be analyzed and discussed in an interdisciplinary context – historical, philosophical, literary, cultural, and political. We will ask: What lessons about human nature can we learn from these experiences? Are humans capable to be motivated by moral choices regardless of the conditions? Why and how do we want to remember the greatest challenges to humanity? Do we?