Penn’s Liliane Weissberg Named 2015-16 USC Shoah Foundation Teaching Fellow

Liliane Weissberg, a professor of German comparative literature in the School of Arts and Sciences of the University of Pennsylvania has been awarded the USC Shoah Foundation 2015-16 Rutman Teaching Fellowship.

The award is offered annually by the Spielberg Foundation to a Penn faculty member to teach about the Holocaust. The Fellowship was established by Penn alumna Lori Rutman Fife in memory of her parents, Henry and Sherry Rutman.

As a Fellow, Weissberg will meet with USC Shoah Foundation staff at the University of Southern California campus in Los Angeles to learn how to integrate the Institute’s Visual History Archive testimonies into her research and teaching.

In the spring semester of 2016, she will teach a course intended for undergraduates of all majors called “Witnessing, Remembering and Writing the Holocaust.” The course draws on Weissberg’s interest in memory, writing and the role of the witness and will incorporate literary sources as well as the Visual History Archive.

At Penn, as well as universities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Weissberg has taught about the relationship between trauma and memory and about thinkers who have written on the Holocaust and the persecution of Jews, such as Hannah Arendt and Karl Löwith. She is an affiliated faculty member of Penn’s Alice Paul Center for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality.

The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Weissberg grew up in Austria and Germany in a close-knit Jewish family. Although her parents were reluctant to share their stories, some members of her family have given their testimonies in the VHA.

Weissberg said that in many courses on the Holocaust, students learn about the victims who died, but few learn about those who survived.

“It is important to hear human voices and learn about their distinct lives,” Weissberg said. “The VHA can provide access to this kind of historical experience and offer an understanding of persons and events that goes beyond history books.”

Weissberg has written essays on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, on Holocaust memorial sites in Germany and elsewhere and on individual figures such as Charlotte Salomon, a German visual artist who perished in a camp. She has also written about Claude Lanzmann’s “Shoah” and on Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List” and its German reception.

The USC Shoah Foundation and Penn partnered in the spring of 2012 when, through the Penn Libraries, the University became the first institution in Pennsylvania to provide access to nearly 52,000 eyewitness testimonies of the Holocaust, Rwandan Tutsi Genocide and Nanjing Massacre.

Additional information about the USC Shoah Foundation is available at

Story Photo