Browning and Bertram
Being a great fan of Christopher Browning's Ordinary Men I wanted to point out this interview with Browning at the Atlantic Online. And on a completely different note, doing a Ralph-style round-up only less organized (I'm short on time), there is a very interesting discussion of speech act theory and its relation to political smears at Crooked Timber. Chris Bertram points out (or, if you don't agree with him, says, or claims - speech act theory in action, so to speak) that just saying a given smear is true doesn't necessarily make it not a smear (because it can be true but selective, for example). All of which leads (or can lead, seems to lead) into further questions of how entrenched ideological positions can distort the truth, and whether people can change their minds.
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Josh Kaderlan - 2/27/2004
The professor who taught the class on Nazism I took in college dealt with it by lecturing dispassionately, and then having a Holocaust survivor in for a guest lecture toward the end of the semester. It seemed to work pretty well.
Interestingly, despite the fact that it was one of the more difficult general history classes, it was also far and away the most popular.
Oscar Chamberlain - 2/27/2004
Thanks for the link to the Christopher interview. It gave me a far better sense of the interaction between Hitler and his subordinates than I had before.
Such a hard topic though. There are certain topics that I still do not know how to approach in class, because they are just so horrible.
I prefer to err toward the dispassionate in class on topics like this, in part on the hope that it may help students look at nuances.
But there are times that this approach seems a sham and that the only way to communicate such horrors is to inflict great pain.
I wonder if that's what Mel Gibson thinks?