Ziegler Lecture: Erin McGlothlin, “Between Exile and Holocaust: Fred Wander’s Hôtel Baalbek”

Thursday, November 9 at 12:30-2:00 PT
Buchanan Tower, Seminar Room 997


Between Exile and Holocaust: Fred Wander’s Hôtel Baalbek by Dr. Erin McGlothlin


Focusing on the biography and literary work of the Austrian-Jewish writer and Holocaust survivor Fred Wander, this presentation will attempt to interrogate a conceptual divide within the scholarship on exile, refuge, and persecution during the Nazi period that rigidly separates the experience of exile from the Third Reich (generally considered as having happened in the “West”) from that of persecution within the Holocaust (seen as having taken place in the “East”). As I will argue, our mental map of this period situates a given individual fate in either in Western Europe (or North America) or in Eastern Europe; an actor from this period is thus considered to have been either an exile or a witness to the Holocaust, but not both. Particularly in literary scholarship, these two constellations of experience are often considered to be mutually exclusive. Indeed, there exists two highly developed disciplinary approaches—Exile Studies and Holocaust Studies—each of which pursues its own distinct research questions mostly in isolation from the other. Recent work has begun to break down this opposition; however, most of this scholarship focuses on the ways in which exiled writers addressed the Holocaust as it was happening in real time. Less work has been done on figures that, with their life experience and their literary work, cut across the conventional definitions of exile literature and Holocaust literature. Fred Wander is one such writer; his biography collapses the simplistic binary division between exile and Holocaust implied by the longstanding divergence between Holocaust Studies and Exile Studies. As I will investigate, his literary work—particularly his 1991 autobiographical novel Hôtel Baalbek—achieves a similar effect, thereby establishing potentially productive points of contact between the two fields. Professor McGlothlin will deliver a lecture and will also give a workshop for graduate students on interdisciplinary approaches to Holocaust Studies.



Dr. McGlothlin is Professor of German and Jewish Studies and Vice Dean for Undergraduate Affairs at Washington University in St. Louis. She’s a leading scholar in Holocaust literature and film as well as German-Jewish studies. In addition to a comparative focus on Holocaust representation, McGlothlin’s research interests include postwar and contemporary German literature, Jewish Studies, narrative theory, autobiography, and the graphic novel. She is the author of Second-Generation Holocaust Literature: Legacies of Survival and Perpetration (2006) and The Mind of the Holocaust Perpetrator in Fiction and Nonfiction (2021). Further, she has co-edited three volumes: After the Digital Divide?: German Aesthetic Theory in the Age of New Digital Media (2009, with Lutz Koepnick), Persistent Legacy: The Holocaust and German Studies (2016, with Jennifer Kapczynski), and The Construction of Testimony: Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah and its Outtakes (2020, with Brad Prager and Markus Zisselsberger).