T4783 – Eastern Europe: Cultural Trauma, Communication, and the Camera

Vilnius, Warsaw, Krakow, Hamburg and Frankfurt
Faculty: Anna Reich, Ph.D. and Tasha Rennels, Ph.D
01/05/2017 – 01/26/2017

This course will analyze how photography can inspire communication that sheds insight into how Holocaust survivors and victims of the Soviet Occupation in Eastern Europe deal with trauma and process grief.

Academic Overview
For the past 100 years, Eastern Europe has encountered dramatic changes that have created a social landscape embedded with signs of trauma that serve as ever-present reminders of a difficult history.  This course will consider the camera’s role in preserving and processing the generational effects of war, occupations, and human rights violations. Through an integrated set of readings, lectures, site visits, and conversations with individuals whose lives were deeply impacted by Nazi as well as Soviet Occupations, we will address how images help people to communicate, reflect upon, and continue bonds with the past. Students will also develop their skills in photography and the creation of social media.

In order to fulfill the aforementioned goals, students will need to bring the following:

  • At least an 8 megapixel camera (as found on many smartphones) though a DSLR camera is ideal.
  • A video recorder whether on a computer, tablet, or smartphone with ample storage.
  • A 64GB flash drive to store recorded materials

Program Fee
Cost: $5,160
*Each home institution may have supplementary fees in addition to the price listed. Program Fee includes: Transportation and course arrangements as indicated, hotel accommodations in twin and triple rooms, continental breakfast daily, six dinners (subject to change).


The course does not have any academic prerequisites.

Required Readings

In Plato’s Cave by Susan Sontag (1977)
If This is a Man by Primo Levi (1947)
National Heroic Narratives in the Baltics as a Source for Nonviolent Political Action by Guntis Smidchens (2007)
Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag (selected chapters) (2003)
Landscape and Memory by Simon Schama (selected chapters) (1996)
Surviving Images: Holocaust Photographs and the Work of Postmemory by Miriam Hirsch (2001)
Sudden Death, Sudden Friend: Exploring the Role of Continuing Bonds with the Deceased by Tasha Rennels and Blake Paxton (2013)
Continuing Conversations About Continuing Bonds by Dennis Klass (2006)
Death: The Beginning of a Relationship by Christine Davis (2010)
Seeking my Brother’s voice: Holding Onto Long-term Grief Through Photographs, Stories, and Reflections by Carolyn Ellis (2014)
Re-membering lives: Conversations With the Dying and the Bereaved by Lorraine Hedtke & John Winslade (select chapters) (2004)
Continuing Bonds: New Understandings of Grief by Dennis Klass, Phyllis Silverman, & Steven Nickman (select chapters) (1996);
Bereavement narratives: Continuing Bonds in the Twenty- First Century by Valentine, C (2008)
Collaborative Witnessing of Survival during the Holocaust: An Exemplar of Relational Autoethnography by Carolyn Ellis and Jerry Rawicki (2013)
Imag(in)ing ‘Homeless Places’”: Using Auto-Photography to (Re)examine the Geographies of Homeless by Sarah Johnson, Jon May, and Paul Cooke (2007)

20% Attendance and Participation
15% Loss Inventory
20% Before and After: Perception Analysis Paper
20% Vlog
25% Digital portfolio

Program Directors

Anna Reich, Ph.D., Augustana University (605) 274.5426, email: areich@augie.edu
Tasha Rennels, Ph.D, Augustana University (605) 274.5473, email: trennels@augie.edu

Description of Faculty Directors
Dr. Anna Reich is an Assistant Professor of art photography and art education at Augustana University. She earned her M.F.A from the Milton Avery School of Art at Bard College. She received a Fulbright Research Grant in 2013-2014, and has worked as a visiting artist and lecturer at both the Vilnius Art Academy in Lithuania and the Art Academy of Latvia.


Dr. Tasha Rennels is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Augustana University. She teaches the basic course in communication as well as courses in media studies, such as “Media and Society.” Her research focuses on the complex and interwoven relationship between mediated representations and lived experiences. She seeks to move beyond providing traditional media analyses that focus only on what is represented on the screen, to providing analyses that are informed by the lived experiences and responses of those who are implicated in these representations. She has recently written and published research about reality television, whiteness, social class and qualitative inquiry.

Application Procedures & Deadline
· Select the How to Apply link to start your online application.
· All applications received by your home institutions priority deadline will be sent to the faculty immediately. Applications will be taken after that deadline for programs with space still remaining until the final application deadline of October 1, 2016.

Final Application Deadline: October 1, 2016

For more information on course content, contact Dr. Anna Reich
On application procedures or logistical information, contact your study abroad office.


How To Apply


Rules and Procedures 2017 (PDF)

Rules and Procedures
Each UMAIE member school has their own application process in place. The UMAIE application process is described in the attached PDF file, and the required documents are available in the How to Apply section.

Applications are accepted until October 1, 2016.
No application will be considered without ALL the required signed documents, copies and a deposit check. If you have any questions please contact your campus UMAIE Board Member.


 Travel Packet

ePacket (Link)

Click the image at left to access the course Travel Packet. The ePacket contains important information about traveling abroad, including your itinerary, frequently asked questions, participant letter and culturegram.

Preliminary Itinerary will be posted by October 17.
Final Itinerary will be posted by December 7.




The Orientation process includes 3 components:
– an online self-study and quiz on the UMAIE student handbook.
– an online orientation webinar conducted by your faculty director(s)
– an on-site orientation upon arrival.

You are REQUIRED to participate in and complete all 3 steps within the deadlines specified below. Failure to do so may result in your removal from the course.


Student Handbook and Online Quiz

We have put together this handbook to provide you with helpful information for planning and spending your time abroad. The handbook is also your primary study guide to pass your online quiz. There are excellent tips in this handbook, and it is organized in a way we hope will be user-friendly and straightforward.

Please carefully read the UMAIE student handbook and complete the quiz on the UMAIE student handbook by October 20, 2016.


quiz_thumbYou can access the online quiz through your online application by logging in to your school’s study abroad website. Complete the 2017 UMAIE Participant Quiz under Assessments on your online application portal.

For students at St. Ambrose University, see your study abroad adviser for a paper copy of the quiz.


Orientation Webinar

The online orientation webinar for this course is on:

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 – 4:00pm-5:30pm

Your participation is required. Please review the sign-in instructions below and make yourself available to participate on this date.

Click the webinar icon below to access the sign-in screen for WebEx.

Instructions (PDF)

Instructions (PDF)

Webinar Link (WebEx)



Participants are required to bring their Student ID card with them on the course to qualify for reduced student entrances at many sites. Without your ID, you could be responsible to pay any difference in entrance fees.