Collage showing a photo of Grace Levy, smiling with a map visible in the background, next to a panel from the graphic novel "Maus" with a crowd of mice instriped prisoner outfits, and a pen and ink illustration of Sleeping Beauty lying in bed

Grace Levy, a panel from Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel “Maus,” and an illustration of Sleeping Beauty

The Stroum Center for Jewish Studies is proud to announce this year’s Excellence in Scholarship Holocaust Paper Prize winner: graduating senior and creative writing major Grace Levy.

The Excellence in Scholarship Paper Prize is awarded annually by the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies, in partnership with the Holocaust Center for Humanity, to honor an outstanding undergraduate student paper that critically engages with the central themes, lessons and ideas of the Holocaust.

Levy’s winning paper, written for Professor Naomi Sokoloff’s winter 2020 Literature and the Holocaust class, discusses intergenerational narratives around surviving the Holocaust, comparing the stories presented in two works of literature: Jane Yolen’s fairy-tale-inflected Holocaust novel “Briar Rose” and Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel memoir “Maus.”

The paper, titled “Co-Authoring the Holocaust: Intergenerational Construction of Personal Narrative,” explores the challenges and opportunities that children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors encounter in attempting to retell their parents’ or grandparents’ survival stories, from the perils of mythologizing real-life figures to the possibilities offered by processing second- or third-hand trauma in order to move forward.

Levy writes: “Children and their (grand-)parents see themselves in one another, layering their voices and accruing a palimpsest [series of layers] of meaning. … The survivor has the opportunity for catharsis, or redemption or, more simply but no less crucially, a sympathetic listener. The Second and Third Generation can reclaim that story as their own… writing him- or herself into real time, penning a new chapter. They accept their bittersweet inheritance. They become protagonists of the present.”

Grace Levy graduated from the University of Washington in spring 2020 with a B.A. in Creative Writing and English. Congratulations, Grace!

Note: The opinions expressed by faculty and students in our publications reflect the views of the individual writer only and not those of the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies.