The mind of the Holocaust perpetrator

On October 14, faculty from across the humanities will discuss Erin McGlothlin’s book The Mind of the Holocaust Perpetrator in Fiction and Non-Fiction (2021). Moderated by Flora Cassen, chair of Jewish, Islamic, and Middle Eastern studies, the panel will include Tabea Linhard, director of global studies, Anika Walke, associate professor of history, and Anca Parvulescu, Liselotte Dieckmann Professor of Comparative Literature.

The Mind of the Holocaust Perpetrator in Fiction and Non-Fiction is the first book to compare fictional portrayals of perpetrators against interviews with real-life perpetrators conducted in the 1960s and 70s. McGlothlin, vice dean of undergraduate affairs and professor of German and Jewish studies, analyzed these depictions through the lens of narrative theory. She found that both fictional and nonfictional accounts often try to make the mindset of these individuals transparent to the reader while simultaneously obscuring the disturbing nature of the characters, presenting them as complex psychological subjects.

“McGlothlin’s book demonstrates what literary studies generally and narrative theory, in particular, can contribute to debates about the historiography of the Holocaust,” said Parvulescu, one of the roundtable speakers. “McGlothlin’s analysis of the strategies of narrative filtering underwriting both fictional and non-fictional accounts of the Holocaust carefully draws out the affective and cognitive mapping of the figure of the perpetrator. In the process, McGlothlin offers readers a nuanced lesson in the ethics of representation.”

The roundtable will take place Oct. 14 at 3 p.m. in Hurst Lounge.