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Survival + Resistance


Like any great work of art, Beloved and Ceremony accomplish the miraculous by creating a picture of a very specific place and time, while at the same time being utterly universal in their ideas.

In trying to “universalize” the text, students research primary source documents created by those who had survived the seemingly endless horrors of the 20th and 21st centuries yet had found somewhere inside themselves enough faith in the future to begin to build a new life from the ashes.


Our focus is on how one is to move on with one’s life after having survived the unthinkable. Students are asked to compare what these people had to say on the topic with the way that Morrison addresses the idea through Beloved’s protagonist, Sethe. In Ceremony, Silko asks, "what happened to the war veterans who returned from war and stayed drunk their entire lives? Even as a child I knew they were not bad people, yet something happened to them. What was it?"  

Victims of the Armenian Genocide (1915–1917)

Rape of Nanking by Japanese soldiers in the late 1930s

The Holocaust

(1938 - 1945)

Killing Fields of Cambodia in the late 1970s

Ethnic Cleansing in Bosnia in the wake of the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s

Rwandan Genocide of 1994

Seemingly never-ending violence in the eastern regions of the Congo

Darfur Massacres in the Sudan

Persecution of ethnic Muslims in Myanmar 

Recent violence in Syria, especially around Aleppo


Our focus is on the individual, human aspects of these circumstances.


Students have the choice of presenting their findings and conclusions through an essay, a website, or a short documentary film that includes interviews and archival footage. All projects include a DH component: a digital timeline, a digital map overlay, or digital text analyses of primary sources.

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