This episode, we are hosting a roundtable discussion with Victoria Aarons, Jenny Caplan, and Jodi Eichler-Levine about Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel Maus, and the recent controversy from January 2022 when a school board in Tennessee banned its teaching. This is a timely topic that ties together the history of Holocaust memory, Holocaust literature (including children’s Holocaust literature), education, and broad social and cultural issues of the present. Listen in as we dive into why Maus is such an important, even landmark work in Holocaust literature, what happened with this attempt to ban Maus, and what it tells us about ongoing debates about what is taught in schools and universities.
Topics, books, and relevant articles discussed today include:
- Maus and Maus II, by Art Spiegalman
- Jenny Caplan, “You Can’t Just Swap Out ‘Maus’ For Another Holocaust Book. It’s Special.” (JTA, Jan. 31, 2022)
- Minutes of the McMinn County, Tennessee, school board meeting where Maus was banned (Jan. 10, 2022)
Our three guests bring together a wide range of research and thinking on the Holocaust, Holocaust literature and education, and also the intersection of Holocaust memory and popular culture:
Victoria Aarons is the O.R. and Eva Mitchell Distinguished Professor of Literature in the English Department at Trinity University in San Antonio, where she teaches courses on American Jewish and Holocaust literatures. She is the author or editor of numerous books, most recently Holocaust Graphic Narratives: Generation, Trauma, and Memory, which was published in 2020 by Rutgers University Press.
Jenny Caplan is an assistant professor of religious studies at Towson University, where she’s also the program director for Jewish studies. She teaches courses in Jewish comics and graphic novels, and has several recent and forthcoming publications on Jewish identity, gender, meaning making, and comics. Her forthcoming book on American Jewish humor will be published with Wayne State University Press.
Jodi Eichler-Levine is the Berman Professor of Jewish Civilization and Professor of Religion Studies at Lehigh University. She is the author of Painted Pomegranates and Needlepoint Rabbis: How Jews Craft Resilience and Create Community, which was published in 2020 the University of North Carolina Press . She is currently writing a book about the intersections between religion and the Walt Disney Company.