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January 06, 2013

Alternate Reality Holocaust Scenarios--Kubert's _Yossel_


Image Source: http://fc02.deviantart.net/fs71/f/2012/102/5/0/joe_kubert_4_by_thekubertschool-d4vwki9.jpg

Class,

In the comment box below, . . .

. . . the note-taker/scribe from each group should retype the question your group discussed today in class and provide an answer with quotations from the text to support your answers. You MUST put the page number (or, paragraph number if there are no page numbers) in parentheses after any quotation used.

Enter your work on this text as prescribed in class. For example:

Remember: I have to "approve" all comments so you won't see it immediately after posting. After hitting submit, you should see a screen that confirms this.

We are beginning to use some concepts in our discussions that you may or may have had practice using before. I want to be sure that you have a clear understanding of the words we use in class (no more blank stares!) so be sure you are looking up words you don't feel you yet "own" (means, making it a part of your personal vocabulary) by utilizing your dictionaries to the fullest.

Dr. Hobbs

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Posted by lhobbs at January 6, 2013 10:51 PM

Readers' Comments:

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Posted by: Latrell at March 19, 2013 06:15 PM

Deirdre Rowan
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 300 CA01 ST: Graphic Novel
5 April, 2013

Question: Is it enough to say one shares the same ethnicity as many of the victims to justifiably write about the topic?

Answer: No, having the same ethnicity as the victims does not justify being able to write about the topic. A fourth-generation Asian-American of Japanese descent would not be able to write about the devastating effects of nuclear fallout around the areas of Nagasaki and Hiroshima after World War II ended if his family immigrated to the United States in 1921. If he did not do any research on these events, then his story will not be as accurate or effective as a first-hand account.

Posted by: Deirdre Rowan at April 5, 2013 06:44 PM

Douglas Phillips
Burgsbee Hobbs
Graphic Novel
08 April 2013
Question: Kubert was not a part of the Holocaust, nor were his parents. Yet, he posits them there in his what if/elsewhere scenario? Is this disrespectful to those who were actually there?
Response: In discussing the events of the Holocaust itself, it is not necessarily disrespectful to posit a “what might have happened” scenario and present it to an audience. In fact, such an act does end up helping to reinforce the knowledge that such events did in fact happen, even if Kubert ends up fictionalizing some of the details, such as the presence of his family. Such an act only becomes blatantly disrespectful when the author inserts himself as a character that is often praised by other characters who are based on real people because of his “great talent” at a specific skill, say drawing comics. Slightly fictionalizing the details of a Jewish revolt against impending death at the hands of the Third Reich is not inherently disrespectful. In fact, given how hard the Nazis tried to hide the evidence of such events, it would be hard to create a purely historically accurate story of the event. In the end, while I might feel Mr. Kubert may have pushed the line of respectfulness and good taste when he made himself a central character of Yossel, I would not say that he did so with malicious intent, or that it absolutely ruins the effect the work has in reinforcing for readers the horrors of the Holocaust.

Posted by: douglas phillips at April 8, 2013 01:03 AM

Douglas Phillips
Burgsbee Hobbs
Graphic Novel
08 April 2013
Question: Kubert was not a part of the Holocaust, nor were his parents. Yet, he posits them there in his what if/elsewhere scenario? Is this disrespectful to those who were actually there?
Response: In discussing the events of the Holocaust itself, it is not necessarily disrespectful to posit a “what might have happened” scenario and present it to an audience. In fact, such an act does end up helping to reinforce the knowledge that such events did in fact happen, even if Kubert ends up fictionalizing some of the details, such as the presence of his family. Such an act only becomes blatantly disrespectful when the author inserts himself as a character that is often praised by other characters who are based on real people because of his “great talent” at a specific skill, say drawing comics. Slightly fictionalizing the details of a Jewish revolt against impending death at the hands of the Third Reich is not inherently disrespectful. In fact, given how hard the Nazis tried to hide the evidence of such events, it would be hard to create a purely historically accurate story of the event. In the end, while I might feel Mr. Kubert may have pushed the line of respectfulness and good taste when he made himself a central character of Yossel, I would not say that he did so with malicious intent, or that it absolutely ruins the effect the work has in reinforcing for readers the horrors of the Holocaust.

Posted by: douglas phillips at April 8, 2013 01:03 AM

Diego Pestana
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 300
8 April 2013

Case #2
Question: How would you feel about an artist, or an industry, or a culture (think: pop culture) that has begun to - increasingly - trivialize [an event from your own past that is particularly painful]?

Answer: If an artist begun to trivialize a painful event from my life, I would not be bothered by it because I have a more post-modern feeling toward art where there is no objective right or wrong. Therefore, it would not make any sense for me to find such a trivialization as "wrong" because that does not apply to the artistic realm. However, as those feelings are mine personally, I can understand someone who is offended by such actions. At the same time, I think that there needs to be less importance placed on agency and more concentration on objectivity in situations such as these, no matter who difficult it may be.

Posted by: Diego Pestana at April 8, 2013 01:41 PM

Nicole Natoli
Professor Hobbs
ENG 300
5 April 2013
Critical Thinking Case #2
Does it denigrate or disrespect the actual events of the Holocaust to have it trivialized? Or is there a silver lining to all of this?

Authors of Holocaust themed literature can disrespect the Holocaust, depending on the way they represent the Holocaust in their writing. The authors of trivialized Holocaust literature, like Superman and the Warsaw Ghetto, do make light of the event. However, they are not necessarily disrespecting the event. Rather than denying that it happened, they reimagine the Holocaust and offer it in a medium that appeals to a wide variety of readers, who may then learn more about the actual events of the Holocaust. Our group decided that none of the Holocaust literature we have come across thus far, including Yossel, has been disrespectful.

Posted by: Nicole Natoli at April 8, 2013 07:29 PM

Nicole Natoli
Professor Hobbs
ENG 300
8 April 2013
Critical Analysis Problem #2: Entertainment Value
In what capacity may Holocaust-themed literature entertain? Is this notion, in itself, disrespectful or offensive?

Holocaust-themed literature for the purpose of entertainment does not personally offend me; however, I believe that if I was a Holocaust victim, then it would. Using something so horribly traumatic as a way to entertain does not seem right. Our group considered what justification there might be for such literature. My group members came to the conclusion that anything can exist in a postmodern world because that postmodern world does not shy away from the potentially offensive. I cannot help but to think that we, as a society, still have a responsibility to respect others and their suffering. After all, a disregard for this is and a lack of compassion is why the Holocaust was able to occur. Why not leave Holocaust literature to those who actually experienced it?

Posted by: Nicole Natoli at April 8, 2013 07:36 PM

Kathleen Weldon
Dr. Hobbs
Eng 300
April 8, 2013

Question: Art wasn’t in the Holocaust, but his father was. What is his agency with the Holocaust? Does Vladek have more ethos on the subject than Art?
Answer: Vladek does have more ethos on the subject than Art because he was actually there and can remember what happened to him and other people. Art has to ask Vladek and do research if he wants to have an accurate portrayal of what happened to his father during the Holocaust.

Posted by: Kathleen Weldon at April 8, 2013 08:06 PM

Question: Who “drew” the final picture? Poke holes in this plot. In what ways does it not work?
Answer: There may be someone who found the journal after his death and drew the last few pages. The reason this could be true is because the last scene shifts to a much more violent theme which wasn’t seen as much throughout the book before now. The end also shows a soldier throwing the paper on the ground which could be the finders’ way of showing how they came across it. It was on the ground when they were going through the rubble of the battle.

Posted by: Kathleen Weldon at April 8, 2013 08:16 PM

Kevin Michael Schuster
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 300: Graphic Novel
13.4.2013

Problem #3: New Historicism - Focus on the number (0713142) on the cover of "Yossel."

Answer: In my brief research, I could not find any kind of record of whom the number may have belonged to in reality. This is not to say that the number was not used during the Holocaust. It simply means that I could not find any record of it. But I suppose that would be the counter-intuitive, keeping a record of who was given what number, considering the entire point of the number was to remove whatever sense of identity the prisoners had in the eyes of their captors.

Posted by: Kevin Michael Schuster at April 10, 2013 10:29 AM

Douglas Phillips
Burgsbee Hobbs
Graphic Novel
10 April 2013
Yossel Question and Response
Question: Poke holes in Yossel's plot. In what ways does it not work?
Response: In regards to the ending of Yossel by Joe Kubert, the ending itself leaves a rather gaping plot hole in terms of internal logic and consistency. The narrator, who had been up to this point giving the reader an account of events after their occurrence in the form of a graphic diary of sorts, which makes every panel of graphic art up to that point a remembrance of things, is now directly engaged in actions in the present as they are happening. At the end, our narrator goes down in a blaze of glory, shooting at and being shot to death by the Nazi soldiers, but how could he be relaying these images if he is no longer alive to draw them? We get the narrator's dying thoughts, but how would he have written them? Even after the narrator's death, the audience sees a Nazi officer pick up one of Yossel's drawings and throw it into the sewer. On a meta-textual level, the reader can understand that this is a work of fiction; a "what if" scenario written by a man whose family had narrowly escaped the events of the Holocaust by quickly fleeing Europe before Hitler's campaign of death could begin in earnest. If, however, we are to maintain the fictive dream of the setting and believe that Yossel is supposed to be the collection of the drawings of a boy who died in the Warsaw ghetto, the final few pages are disruptive and damaging to the fabric of the story. A sudden, abrupt end as the narrator is drawn away from his last drawing would have maintained the illusion of the story as a "found" document, but the presence of the final gunfight leaves the reader to question how that could be in the book if it was supposed to be written by Yossel himself. At present, two theories could explain the ending, but neither one is actually addressed within the pages of the text. One, the final blaze of glory moment wherein Yossel dies could be a fantasy scenario (within another fantasy scenario, ironically) where the character is visualizing how he will die. Two, the final pages could have been contributed by some fictional finder of the journal, supposing that the journal was found and that the discoverer wanted to include the inevitable conclusion. Unfortunately, neither one of these potential explanations were addressed by the author in the text, so the ending of the tale of Yossel is left confusingly out of the realm of plausibility within the world of the work itself.

Posted by: douglas Phillips at April 10, 2013 01:16 PM

(1) 4/5/13 Case Study # 2: Trivialization

Do works of comic book fiction like “Yossel” and the alter-universe “Superman” comics trivialize the holocaust? If you had family in the holocaust (or if you were a survivor) would these works offend you? Pick something that is sensitive to you and discuss it?

As a person who has had family involved in the holocaust I do have a sensitive stance on the topic, that being said, I am not be offended by the above mentioned comics because I believe in the message they are trying to send. Although comic books as a practice has been considered a “low-brow” form of art for many years, especially amongst literary scholarship, there is high-value to their reading. As a person who might not understand the horrors of the holocaust first hand, I value the readership of holocaust fiction, because it reminds us of the horror. As we learned, though the lecture in class, there are plenty of holocaust deniers who use media and art to collude the truth of history. I believe that the works of holocaust fiction reminds us that this really happened. Some people have trouble believing that such a horrible tragedy like this could occur, this is what the holocaust deniers prey on: the lack of knowledge (or flat out denial). In my opinion, holocaust comic fiction does not trivialize the act, it merely shows us the truth (which some refuse to admit).

Posted by: Joseph at April 10, 2013 01:21 PM

(2) 4/8/13 Case Study #2: Entertainment Value

Do you see holocaust fiction as a form of entertaining? Could you say that “Yossel” was entertaining?

I think that any form of fiction is entertaining (this includes historical fiction- like “Yossel”). The problem with “Yossel” is that it is a historical fiction---that is made up. The author of “Yossel” is drawing upon his family’s history in Europe during the 1940’s. Although in actuality his family escaped the holocaust, he recreates an alternate scenario where he and his family did not survive. This may offend some people who have actually gone through trauma related to the holocaust. Although the holocaust is a very sensitive topic, I believe that works surrounding the genocide do provide forms of entertainment. In my opinion the word “entertainment” does not have to mean a negative connotation. Instead the “entertainment” aspect of the holocaust would force people to watch and understand the work. In a world full of holocaust deniers, the more you revitalize the ethos of history of fiction---the more people pay attention. The more people understand the horror of such an act, the more we can learn from mistakes of the past.



Posted by: Joseph at April 10, 2013 01:22 PM

(2) 4/8/13 Case Study #2: Entertainment Value

Do you see holocaust fiction as a form of entertaining? Could you say that “Yossel” was entertaining?

I think that any form of fiction is entertaining (this includes historical fiction- like “Yossel”). The problem with “Yossel” is that it is a historical fiction---that is made up. The author of “Yossel” is drawing upon his family’s history in Europe during the 1940’s. Although in actuality his family escaped the holocaust, he recreates an alternate scenario where he and his family did not survive. This may offend some people who have actually gone through trauma related to the holocaust. Although the holocaust is a very sensitive topic, I believe that works surrounding the genocide do provide forms of entertainment. In my opinion the word “entertainment” does not have to mean a negative connotation. Instead the “entertainment” aspect of the holocaust would force people to watch and understand the work. In a world full of holocaust deniers, the more you revitalize the ethos of history of fiction---the more people pay attention. The more people understand the horror of such an act, the more we can learn from mistakes of the past.



Posted by: Joseph at April 10, 2013 01:22 PM

Deirdre Rowan
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 300 CA01 ST: Graphic Novel
9 April, 2013

Question: Critical Analysis Problem #3 New Historicism-What plot elements jump out at you as something that really needs to be compared with historical (non-fiction) narritives?

Answer: The character of Mordecai needs to be evaluated because he is based on the real-life person Mordecai Anielewicz, the leader of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Though there are no pictures of him in Warsaw, we are left to wonder, is his phyical appearance in Yossel really what he looked like before he died? Did he really have long locks of hair, wear glasses, and have a trench coat and brimmed hat?
According to the three websites that I researched on Anielewicz, he was killed in a bunker by poisonous gas, not shot by bullets and flamethrowers in a sewer. This might mean the Kubert is taking creative licensing with the person to order to make him more appealing as a character.

http://fcit.usf.edu/holocaust/people/anielewi.htm
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/Anielevich.html
http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2WWanielewicz

Posted by: Deirdre Rowan at April 15, 2013 11:43 PM

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