Here are links of PowerPoint Presentations, PDF documents and Word documents.
In the years following the Holocaust, countless autobiographical memoirs have been published detailing the experience of survivors. Elie Wiesel’s Night, Primo Levi’s Survival at Auschwitz, and The Diary of Anne Frank bear witness to one of history’s worst human rights violations. Told from the first-person point of view, we accept the horrible truth that these accounts offer us. In 1996, Binjamin Wilkomirski published his memoir, Fragments, a story of how he survived the concentration camps as a child. At the time, it was hailed by newspapers like the New York Times and the Guardian as a “masterpiece,” “as one of the great works about the Holocaust.” However, in 1999, it was pulled from shelves because several historians were able to prove that Wilkomirksi was not a Holocaust survivor at all. While he was appropriately criticized for falsifying such an identity, the situation revealed an interesting question for writers and readers alike: who, exactly, has the authority to write about human atrocities except for the survivor? If Wilkomirski had labeled his book as a work of fiction, how would that have changed the way we viewed the power of his story? Studying a of body of literature, which will include novels, graphic novels, film, and technologies, this course will address the role of fiction as a means to address issues of human atrocities. Through works like Albert Camus’ The Plague (French Algeria, totalitarianism, the Holocaust), Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son (North Korea), Naomi Benaron’s Running the Rift (Rwanda), and Majane Satrapi’s Persepolis (Iran), we will examine the ways in which writing this kind of fiction entails a unique kind of social responsibility, one that demands a code of ethics without compromising artistic vision or technique.
ENGL 1102 course taken at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Ted Style Talk: How Fiction Tells the Truth About Human Rights: Orphan Master's Son and Persepolis
Persona Assignment of 'The Plague' by Albert Camus: Rambert writes a letter to Dr. Rieux
Dear Dr. Rieux,
Her beautiful eyes glow in such peace and warmth I had never appreciated before. As I write this, my love lies dormant next to me. We are married now, not under God, but under the unconditional love that pulled us back to each other in this world. It has been five years since I left the city of Oran. When you last saw me, I was a journalist for one of the leading Paris daily newspapers. I do not miss the hotel disguised as a prison cell in Oran. Le Champs-Élysées et la Gare du Nord are no longer evocations of my mind, but free land to roam. Until the plague stroked Oran, I looked at others over my shoulders and did not question authority in being just and equal. I simply did what I was told and that was that. As a journalist, I abandoned my woman to travel and be at the heart of critical news. I had seen barbarous and corrupted governments strip away the rights of people, but my pen captured only a fictitious and distorted story. I was the man that talked to you about love, Dr. Rieux, but my actions never reflected it so.
I was a traveler caught by the plague at the wrong place and at the wrong time. I was obsessed by my home and my wife. I was self-confident and self-assured that some official with authority would give me the freedom which was rightfully mine. But I did not know a soul in Oran, and my lonely strolls lead me back to you. What I did not realize was that I was in the making of a good story for my paper. I had to endure the same aggravated deprivation as every one of the thousands of people in the town. However, when we turned people into numbers they become mere abstractions. Mankind lost the capacity to love, the moment a human is abstracted into a precious small idea. I had become an idea in the papers, and no officials, prefects, smugglers or doctors I sought would release me from that town. The plague taught me a lesson. The moment I started working by your side in the quarantine station, I began to feel part of Oran. I did not want to go back to Paris because I wished to take share in other people’s unhappiness, something I failed to do as a journalist.
Back then, I was a mindless puppet of the French political government. You made me realize that I had lost the common decency of my job. Well, not just doing it but doing it right, without turning my back on love. I feel ashamed of myself, and I was an embarrassment in my relationship with my wife. I reach out to you because I would like to write a truthful journal article on the living-conditions prevailing among the Arab population. The facts written down will not palter with reality. As I have come to understand that as a loving human being, this business is everybody’s business, whether or not one is part of it. Ideas spread in papers, news, and articles like a viral disease. You will be proud of me Dr. Rieux, as the plague shall not awaken again.
Written by: Aida Yoguely Cortés-Peña
Here are links to my blog posts for my English course at Georgia Institute of Technology. The class blog is at fictionhumanrights.blogspot.com. These blog posts are to extend the discussion beyond the classroom and to become aware of human rights issues that exist in the world today and how technology has played a role in either solving or aggravating them. My Blog features links to these english course blogs as well.
Lesson Learned: Have fun and submerge yourself into the topic.
- Extra Credit [ Main ]
- Lectures [ Main ]
- Persona Assignment: Character Rambert writes a letter to Dr. Rieux years after the plague. Ramber is a character from the book 'The Plague' by Albert Camus [ Main ]
- Presentation: Analysis of 'The Orphan Master's Son' by Adam Johnson [ Main ]
- Syllabus [ Main ]
- Ted Talk Power Point: How Fiction Tells the Truth About Human Rights: Orphan Master's Son and Persepolis [ Main ]