The Stroum Center for Jewish Studies, in collaboration with Seattle’s Holocaust Center for Humanity, is proud to announce the 2019 winner of the Excellence in Scholarship Holocaust paper prize, awarded every year for an outstanding undergraduate paper related to Holocaust studies.
Jacqueline Goodrich, a history major who will graduate in 2020, received this year’s prize for her paper “Photography versus Storytelling in the Realm of Historical Study,” which analyzes the ethics of depicting atrocities like the Holocaust through depersonalized photographs of suffering, as opposed to individual portraits and personal narratives.
Writes the selection committee, “We were impressed by the theoretical sophistication and historical sensitivity displayed in this paper. Meditating on the strengths and pitfalls of photography as a catalyst for the formation of historical memory about the Holocaust, the author argues that storytelling is a crucial supplement to photography, because photographs, taken by themselves, often fail to ‘foster a connection between the past and the present’ and can even numb us to the suffering of the victims.
“Examining the work of Seattle-based artist Miha Sarani, as well as Art Spiegelman’s well-known graphic novel Maus, the author shows how less ‘realistic’ representations of atrocity can paradoxically be more effective in conveying the reality of those horrors to contemporary audiences through their narrative power.”
Goodrich concludes her paper by contrasting the anonymous suffering depicted in “atrocity photography” with the genuine sense of connection and loss that individual stories can inspire, reflecting:
If people of the present can relate to and understand the humanity of just one of the victims in the past, they have come one step closer to ensuring that such horrors will not be repeated. As the generation who have directly experienced the horrors of World War II fades away, it is even more critical to record these stories as the best link historians have available to connect with and understand the past.
As well as majoring in history, Jacqueline Goodrich hopes to minor in Jewish studies, and plans to write her senior thesis on Holocaust history. After graduating in 2020, Goodrich intends to attend medical school and to pursue a career as a physician.
The Holocaust paper prize is made possible through the generosity of Stroum Center for Jewish Studies donors and the Holocaust Center for Humanity. Special thanks to Dee Simon, Baral Family Executive Director of the Holocaust Center for Humanity, for her work in helping to make the prize possible.