Professor Ellis offers a graduate seminar that engages students to cultivate the ability to think with and about testimonies of loss, trauma, and disruption, within the dialectic of intimacy and distance. The course requires students to listen to stories of trauma and relate them to their lives and experiences. This is done by examining the rhetorical and social aspects of the story as told; analyzing the cultural, structural, and other sociological patterns in trauma stories and testimonies; and connecting the stories and experiences to historical and political contexts.
Professor Ellis says, “the testimonies from the VHA are an important and useful resource in this class. Listening to these testimonies prepares students for meeting and
listening to survivors and helps them anticipate issues that arise in their interviews. In response to the VHA testimonies, students describe and react to survivors’ experiences before, during, and after the Holocaust.” Students respond to the interview protocols they observe in the VHA by examining their effectiveness, the role of the interviewer, and how relationality and emotionality play out in the interaction.