Sara Hupp, M.L.S.
Education: Bachelor of Arts in history and mass communications (May 2006)
Master of Library Science from Emporia State University
McNair Project: Holocaust Poetry as a Viable Means of Holocaust Representation (2005)
Mentor: David Stone, Ph.D.
If it is true that certain types of Holocaust representations (films such as Schindler’s List, for example) cause a person to feel a certain type of excitement towards the material, then a question exists as to what kinds of material fail to provide titillation. As it stands there are arguments against violent or overtly emotional imagery in that it causes excitement (arousal) or sorrow (leading to joy). One is now forced to find a method of Holocaust representation that evokes a “proper” response.
Poetry in and of the Holocaust establishes a form of representation that does create an empathic reaction in that images of violence are not gratuitous. Although the poetry tends to have a strong emotional impact, much of it was written without the deliberate tugging of the reader’s heartstrings. The poetry, especially that written in the ghettos (or even outside, written by Jews while fighting as partisans), made calls for resistance (physical and spiritual) without using graphic imagery or deeply sentimental pleas.
Ghetto poetry can provide a strong empathic reaction without resorting to overly brutal imagery, making it an appropriate form of Holocaust representation. The component of memorialization shows how important poetry was to Jews in the Nazi ghettos. Not only was poetry used to memorialize events, but poetry was used to make calls for resistance. Finally, because of the use of poetry inside of the Nazi ghettos, it can be used as a historical source, as well as a piece of literature.