March 10, 2015 Meeting

5:30 p.m. at the University Club, 10th floor of the Fifth-Third Bank Building in downtown Grand Rapids. Free parking in the 5/3 underground parking area. Enter from Monroe and tell the attendant you are with the Torch club.

March 10, 2015 Dinner Menu: Caesar Salad, Pork Tenderloin, Herbed Green Beans, Creamy Risotto Chocolate Mousse Cup Martini, House-made Rolls, Coffee and Tea Service

ROB FRANCIOSI, GVSU Professor and Torch Club member,  “The Holocaust Survivor in America”

Rob FranciosiRob Franciosi is Professor of English and Honors at Grand Valley State University and a long-time Torch Club member. He edited Elie Wiesel: Conversations (2002) and Good Morning: A Holocaust Memoir (2001), and has published articles and chapters on a range of Holocaust texts. For several years, he has conducted workshops for teachers at the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, Michigan, and is currently completing a book manuscript entitled Imagining The Ghetto: John Hersey’s The Wall and American Holocaust Memory.

Seventy years after German slave labor and death camps were liberated in 1945, Holocaust survivors are rapidly passing from the scene. Many were interviewed about their searing experiences and all witnessed cultural attempts to express them, from the arrangement of artifacts in museum exhibits to the production of highly stylized films. In the early 1960s The Pawnbroker, as both novel and film, became the first important fictional depiction in American culture. The image it presented of the survivor broken and traumatized by memory, however, lives in tension with the biographies of such resilient survivors as Grand Rapids businessman Joe Stevens and Tom Lantos, representative in the U.S. Congress.

Not all survivors emerged from the ranks of “displaced persons,” moving from trauma to triumph. And though early misunderstandings rooted in ignorance and neglect over time have evolved into respect, even veneration, the post-Holocaust lives of “survivors” in America may finally teach us more about ourselves than about those individuals. How will we continue to remember and represent these historical figures once we are left with only the cultural memories established by books and films, testimonies and museums, personal encounters and public commemorations? Drawing from historical accounts as well as popular culture, Rob Franciosi will trace the figure of the Holocaust “survivor” in America over the last seven decades.

Please join us in our Torch Club season with drinks, dinner, great conversation and an enjoyable evening with your friends at Torch Club. See you there!

Drinks and meet and greet begins at 5:30 pm and dinner normally begin at 6:00 p.m.