We Seek The Meaning Of Life: Reading In The Face Of Destruction

Ravenel Richardson
Visiting Scholar, CWRU School of Medicine
Wednesday February 26
7 p.m.
Ravenel Richardson

This talk will discuss the reading practices of Hélène Berr and Etty Hillesum, Jewish literary scholars who kept diaries during the Holocaust as the Nazis attempted to strip them of their intellectual heritage, culture, and humanity. Both women were well-read in multiple languages and disciplines, and were forced out of their doctoral programs when the Germans invaded their countries. Each would informally continue her studies, seeking the meaning of life—and death—through reading her favorite authors and thinkers. This lecture explores how each woman attempted to envision her own imprisonment and death as a mode of resistance, designed to withstand the dehumanization and psychological degradation the Nazi Germans intended for them.

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