The Symposium in Memoriam Terrence Des Pres

November 4, 2015

40th anniversary of The Survivor

The symposium in memoriam Terrence Des Pres at the Kelly Writers House will honor the 40th anniversary of the publication of his influential study of survivorship and writing (bearing witness), The Survivor: An Anatomy of Life in the Death Camps (1976), a major work on Holocaust testimony. Much contemporary scholarly and journalistic work about the impact of genocide on survivors owes a debt to Des Pres and The Survivor. The Survivor was among the first systematic studies – from the point of view of literary theory, literary history and writing – of the writing and other forms of expression of genocide victims and intended victims.

Featured presenters include Peter Balakian, a poet and scholar who has written extensively about the Armenian genocide; Penn professor Al Filreis, who has taught a course on literary representations of the Holocaust for more than three decades; Carolyn Forche, poet and editor of the groundbreaking 1993 anthology Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness; Annette Insdorf, professor of film at Columbia and author of Indelible Shadows: Film and Holocaust, a landmark study in the subject; Rabbi Joseph Polak, an infant survivor of the Holocaust; Alan Rosen who has worked extensively with Holocaust testimonies over the course of his career; and Leona Toker, faculty member at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who has written extensively on survivorship.


The Provost's Interdisciplinary Arts Fund, Writers Without Borders, the Wexler Family Endowed Fund for Programs in Jewish Life and Culture, the Jewish Studies Program, and the Faculty Director's Discretionary Fund at the Kelly Writers House.

Additional resources

  1. Terrence Des Pres: Selected Publications
  2. Bibliography of material referencing Terrence Des Pres or The Survivor

Media from this event

  1. Symposium I: MP3 | Streaming Video
  2. Symposium II: MP3 | Streaming Video
  3. Reading and Talks: MP3 | Streaming Video