Rachel Elizabeth Mandel (AS ’15) completed a Capstone in Modern Jewish Studies entitled, From Maus to Magneto: Exploring Holocaust Representation in Comic Books and Graphic Novels. Prof. Zachary Braiterman served as her advisor.

Rachel’s Capstone analyzed the topic of Holocaust representation in comic books and graphic novels. Comics are an oft-overlooked medium in academic circles, so there is a distinct lack of scholarly works examining comics outside the fields of pop culture studies or comics art studies. As a result, outside of works like Art Spiegelman’s Maus, the phenomenon of Holocaust representation in comics is relatively uncategorized and unexamined. Rachel’s work demonstrates that comics are a legitimate medium for depicting and analyzing the Holocaust both as a historical event and through the lenses of trauma and memory. maus book cover

She has these words of advice to Honors students:

My first piece of advice is a general one to any Honors student working on their Capstone project – STOP PROCRASTINATING! Trust me on this one. You’ll convince yourself that you’re on schedule, that you have plenty of time to finish your project, that of course it’ll be fine to take the weekend off. And that right there is how you end up writing your “Advice to Future Honors Students” section on the weekend before the final turn-in date while everyone else is hanging out enjoying the first five minutes of warm weather in months. Don’t make my mistakes.

magneto comic book cover

My second piece of advice is specifically aimed at my fellow Judaic Studies Honors students. When I started thinking about what topic I wanted to research for my Judaic Studies Capstone, I had a lot of difficulty finding something that fit within the subject matter of the major and was still something that I was passionate enough about to spend two years researching. I finally found my topic by looking at my own life and the things I was interested in, totally separate from my academic pursuits, and finding a way to connect that back to Judaic Studies. What I realized is this – Judaic Studies can be found in the most unexpected of places. Even comic books. So don’t be afraid to think outside the box and find something that is important to you. You’re going to be spending a lot of time on this topic, so make it a good one.

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