Status: PhD Candidate

Adviser: Konrad H. Jarausch and Karen Auerbach

Graduate Email: passanna@live.unc.edu / daniela.r.p.weiner@gmail.com


Education

AB Vassar College, 2012 (History and Italian)
MS Johns Hopkins University, 2014 (Education)
MA University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2017 (Modern European History)
MA Thesis: “Tendentious Texts: Holocaust Representations and Nation-Rebuilding in East German, Italian, and West German Schoolbooks, 1949-1989”

Research Interests

In my dissertation, provisionally titled, “Teaching a Dark Chapter: Holocaust and Resistance Representations in East German, West German, and Italian History Textbooks, 1943-2000,” I explore how the post-fascist countries of East Germany, West Germany, and Italy taught about the Second World War and the Holocaust in their educational systems. The dissertation specifically explores the representations of these events in textbooks. Postwar textbooks were initially reluctant to discuss mass murder, but a discourse eventually developed in all three countries’ textbooks that was largely influenced by the needs of rebuilding postwar nations. While West German textbooks and their treatments of the Holocaust have been highly studied, the East German and Italian cases have thus far suffered from a paucity of scholarship. Using process-, product-, and reception-oriented methods, this three-country comparative project deals, not only with the actual textbook products, but also with the processes by which these textbooks were developed, the educational structures that supported their production, as well as their reception among student and the public. The East-West German comparison allows to evaluate the influence of governmental ideology on educational reform, while the comparison between both German states and Italy permits one to consider how the ambiguities of perpetrator status helped determine educational policies. This project illuminates larger questions of how textbooks both contributed to and reflected the process of Vergangenheitsbewältigung [coming to terms with the past]. It also investigates how these countries approached the process of nation-rebuilding, both incorporating and sometimes selectively ignoring the painful legacies of the fascist attempts at racial empire-building. Most broadly, it explores questions of how post-dictatorial states democratize and rebuild.

This research has been funded by the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, the German Historical Institute Washington DC, the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research, the Duke Council for European Studies, the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, the U.S. Department of Education [Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Academic Year Fellowship], the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of History.

Preliminary results can be found in a 2018 article in Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, entitled “Tendentious texts: Holocaust representations and nation-rebuilding in East German, Italian, and West German schoolbooks, 1949–1989”—https://doi.org/10.1080/14725886.2017.1396745.