The Initiative in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies

The Initiative in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies (HGMS) was founded in 2009 by Michael Rothberg and a group of scholars including Peter Fritzsche, Anke Pinkert, and Brett Kaplan. The idea was to bring together research across the University of Illinois campus in comparative genocide issues. The current HGMS affiliated faculty work on questions of trauma and memory in the contexts of the Holocaust, Rwanda, Cambodia, Armenia, and other geographic and historical sites. In the fall of 2017, we launched a new HGMS faculty series that offered an opportunity for UIUC scholars and guest visiting scholars such as Ariella Azoulay to share ideas across the range of disciplinary, theoretical, geographical, and historical span of memory studies. HGMS maintains an active blog entitled (after the brilliant Holocaust survivor and writer Charlotte Delbo’s work) Days and Memory.  HGMS has become a vibrant center of intellectual exchange on this campus and connects with many memory scholars around the world.

See what students and faculty have to say about HGMS.

HGMS is profoundly committed to fostering graduate student education and to that end we have several projects ongoing. We organize many events to benefit the campus and off-campus communities; we have been able to produce a huge number of wonderful conferences, lectures, roundtables etc. on either a shoestring budget or with funds raised externally.

A wonderful Future of Trauma and Memory Studies reading group organized by HGMS students fosters intellectual exchange between students and faculty from English, Comparative Literature, French, Art History, Library Sciences, German, and other programs and departments. This group has also organized many on-campus events, including a graduate student conference in 2014 and a film series in Spring 2015.

HGMS is affiliated with Mnemonics, an international summer school that holds a scintillating annual conference. Each year we send one HGMS student to the conference. We hosted the Mnemonics summer school in the summer of 2016 and it was thrilling to welcome graduate students and faculty from all over the world to discuss ideas at the cutting edge of memory studies.

Graduate Certificate

HGMS offers a graduate certificate that demonstrates the student’s expertise in trauma and/or memory studies and can enhance job applications for academic positions. More information about the HGMS certificate can be found here.

For Graduate Seminars in HGMS and Related Fields click here.


HGMS students are also eligible to apply to our graduate fellowship through the Gendell Family and Shiner Family Fund.


We encourage HGMS students to become engaged in the program by offering them chances to write for the Jewish Studies/HGMS newsletter and/or the blog and/or to perform. Because of all of these graduate student activities many potential incoming graduate students choose Illinois so that they can be part of this vibrant intellectual community.

The initiative in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies regularly sponsors public lectures on anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, and genocide. 

Related Items