April 26, 2007
Mellon awardee explores Shoah’s place in English lit
(Page 2 - Previous Page)He has visited Israel twice and hopes to go again as part of his Mellon project.
Sundquist is aware that in the field of Holocaust studies, almost all his peers are Jewish.
"I realize there are some things I can't feel or know in the same way as my Jewish colleagues," he said. "But perhaps I can contribute something by standing outside the tradition."
Given the pervasiveness of Jewish themes (and writers) in American literature, some see English as the "new Yiddish" and the prime language of the Jewish experience, including the Shoah.
However Sundquist, who does not read or speak the language, believes that "Yiddish should be returned to its rightful place in literature," and he plans to use some of his Mellon grant money at least to revive the Yiddish studies program at UCLA.
In general, Sundquist will use his $1.5 million award to involve other American and international scholars, students and creative writers, support publications and organize lectures, courses and conferences, jointly with the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies.
Yet, with all the exhaustive research and writing on the Holocaust, its two central questions, "How could it have happened?" and "What does it mean?" still challenge historians and writers.
Sundquist quotes the writer Isaac Rosenfeld, who as far back as 1948 wrote about the Holocaust: "By now we know all there is to know. But it hasn't helped; we still don't understand."
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