COMS 414 helping students remember the Holocaust


By Joe Huss

Dr. Sandra French is using her COMS 414: Critical Analysis of Public Discourse to teach students to look at how the Holocaust is remembered. The class is using rhetorical criticism in looking at memorials to the Holocaust and how it is portrayed in media around the world. The class is using the old age adage -- “those who don’t remember the past, are doomed to repeat it” -- to look at how different communities have attempted to remember the Holocaust.

French said, “I picked this topic because it is personally interesting to me.”

One of the things French is most excited about is the group of guest speakers that she has lined up for her students. The first is Michael Meindl a production technology professor who will speak of how museums make use of interactive media. The second is Bernard Marie who at 5 years old was liberated from Nazi-occupied France on the D-Day invasion. The third speaker French has coming in is history professor Mike Montgomery who will talk to the class about Nazi propaganda.

The guest speaker coming in April is Nathan Kranowski. Kranowski is a former professor who taught at Radford University for 25 years before retiring in 2002. He is also a survivor of the Holocaust and will speak to the students about his experience and life afterwards.

French has many expectations for the class and what she expects the students to gain from the class. French said, “I hope the students gain a greater understanding of the Holocaust, and of the evils humans can do to one another, and I hope that students will appreciate the method of rhetorical criticism we are using in class and the difficulties of ‘remembering’ historical events.”

The students seem to share her enthusiasm and enjoying the class as much as French is. Senior Colton McConnell actually learned about the class after interviewing French for another class and decided then he would take it. McConnell said of the class, “I’m really enjoying the class. Dr. French is really knowledgeable about the subject and seems to really enjoy teaching it.” 

Mar 14, 2017
School of Communication