(January 22, 2013)

Van Thyn series commemorates the Holocaust

SHREVEPORT, LA — Centenary Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Dr. Spencer Dew will present the annual Van Thyn Memorial Lecture on January 28. The event is free and open to the public.

Yellow Flower and barbed wire

  • What: Van Thyn Memorial Lecture

  • When: Monday, January 28, 7:00-8:00 p.m.

  • Where: Kilpatrick Auditorium, Centenary campus

In his lecture, "Auschwitz: Holocaust, Narrative, and the Dangers of Resolution," Dr. Dew will examine an array of popular representations of the Holocaust and argue that a mode of storytelling drawn from Jewish tradition offers a more responsible way of dealing with this tragic history.

"In looking at the textual sources of Jewish tradition, we not only see an example of how to responsibly talk about and memorialize an event like the Holocaust without reducing or simplifying the event but we also learn a useful lesson about the language we use and the stories we tell more generally," said Dew. "Classic rabbinic writing has a great deal to say about the responsibilities of citizenship for us, today: how we represent and thus conceive the world around us, how we tell stories about and thus encounter that world."

Dr. Spencer Dew
Dr. Spencer Dew

After receiving a BA in religious studies, Dew completed graduate study at the University of Chicago Divinity School. He also participated in summer programs at the Naropa Institute and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. An accomplished author, Dew published Songs of Insurgency, a collection of short stories, in 2008. A novel, Here is How it Happens, will be published in the spring of 2013.

The Van Thyn lecture series honors Rose and Louis Van Thyn, Holocaust survivors who dedicated themselves to retelling their stories so that people would not forget or repeat those horrors. For her extraordinary community service, Mrs. Van Thyn was awarded the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at Centenary's 2002 commencement exercises. She passed away in 2010 at the age of 88, and literally talked to thousands of local schoolchildren during her life about the horrors of the Jewish genocide.

Friends of Mrs. Van Thyn established the Rose and Louis Van Thyn Holocaust Professorship in November 2009. The purpose of the Van Thyn Professorship is to provide educational opportunities for the students of the College and members of the surrounding community, with a goal of teaching about the history of the Holocaust, and how to recognize signs of intolerance and provide a means for preventing prejudice and hatred.