Maus I, plus

Wed, 26 Jan 1994 16:09:51 EST

What's the use of this list some ask? Well, having been part of
it for almost two years now, I'd like to reply:

First off, and most obviously, the list allows
me to hang out with folks whose training is different from mine
(I'm a historian), but whose interests are akin to mine. That's
a privilege. Last year a student of mine in Art History asked
"When did _race_ begin?" (many of you will remember this one).
I needed a coherent answer better than my mumble, and I needed
an answer in a week. I asked the list and the list came through
like gangbusters! Then, in the middle of preparing a conference
paper, I needed to know why anthropologists held Bruce Chatwin's
_Songlines_ in such low repute...? Again, list folks had solid
answers. The paper sailed through. Thanks folks, once again.

Secondly, this is a list that values people as they are (within
a fairly wide reach of latitude, that is).
(Perhaps that's why Seeker 1's "nom de bit/internet" seems
odd, even impolite perhaps. The list is good at delimiting
Perhaps my queries were of no interest to more than 10% of the
list, but that 10% was the world to me right then because those
were the people who knew something I did not. And sometimes it's
just been one person: Steve Maack clear across the continent
sent me (and others) personal word on friends and family caught
in the midst of the Topanga Canyon fires. That's a debt I
cannot repay. The list made that connexion possible; the list
allowed me to ask someone I did not know to look, please look,
and he did.

There! end of I have a real question which
John McCreery sparked with his note that "the existence of us vs.
them is prima facie evidence that a culture exists."

Next week my students and I will begin discussing Art Spiegelman's
MAUS I (MAUS II is on reserve in the library, but they are only
required to read MAUS I.

Why do you think Spiegelman told his father's story as a Holocaust
survivor by way of mice and cats? Is this "us" and "them"? Is
it necessary to demarcate/define difference as"them" in order to
see what's happening? Is this another emic/etic problem here?
Does the story have to be told through the mice (not-people) in
order to make it clear that the Holocaust meant the destruction
of a culture, a memory, a history?

What course is this for, you ask? It's a first-year methodology
course in religious studies, entitled Human Values and Religion.
In this component, we're working on two of N.Smart's "six
dimensions of religion"--specifically ritual and social dimensions
and the methodology employed for the component is sociology/anthropology.

Why did I pick Spiegelman? My daughter had read it initially and
was favourably impressed. So was I. Three years ago I discovered
that some of my brightest students were sure there hadn't been a
Holocaust ("diptheria camps, incineration of disease-ridden clothing,
not mass extermination, certainly not a Final Solution,"etc., etc.)
I haven't taught a course since without working the Holocaust into
it someway, somehow.

Oh, and lest you think my last name tells you why...? Korp is an
old Swedish name: means "raven".

So, anybody using MAUS in class?? How's it going?

as ever,

Maureen Korp, PhD
University of Ottawa