Author Date


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Defense Date


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First Faculty Advisor

Robert Christensen

First Faculty Reader

Joseph Darowski

Honors Coordinator

Aaron Eastley


Holocaust, women, gender analysis, literature, victim, master narrative


Women are severely unrepresented in the master narrative that has come to define what it means to be a Holocaust victim. Although men and women were subjected to different forms of victimization, women’s unique experiences of suffering have been marginalized and subsumed within the male-dominated master narrative. Examining the Holocaust through a gendered lens challenges this existing narrative of Holocaust victimhood. Conducting a gender analysis of the Holocaust is essential to fully incorporate women’s experiences into Holocaust history and the grossly inadequate narrative society uses to define Holocaust victimhood.

An analysis of fifty Holocaust fiction novels revealed that literature’s depiction of Holocaust victimhood is far more accurate than that of history, largely due to the consistent portrayal of five prominent distinctions between the experiences of male and female victims. The depiction of these five key dimensions of the feminine victim experience---sexual humiliation, assault, starvation, motherhood burdens, and camp relationships---is examined at length across twelve novels to illustrate the importance of studying the Holocaust through a feminine framework. Studying the Holocaust through a gendered lens, specifically with attention to these five distinctions, is necessary for Holocaust history to be comprehensive and for the master narrative to be truly indiscriminate.