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Release: March 28, 2001

Harvard professor to speak at UI about documentary film on Nazi war crimes in France

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Susan Rubin Suleiman, a Harvard University professor, will visit the University of Iowa April 4-6 as an Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor. During her visit she will give a free public lecture about the documentary film "Hotel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie."

Her presentation, "History, Memory, and Moral Judgement: On Marcel Ophuls's Hotel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie," will be Thursday, April 5, at 7:30 p.m. in the South Room of the Iowa Memorial Room. A free, public screening of the film will be held Wednesday, April 4, at 6:30 p.m. in Room 61 Schaeffer Hall.

The film focuses on the trial of Klaus Barbie, the former Gestapo chief known as the "Butcher of Lyon," who was extradited from Bolivia in 1983 to stand trial in France on charges of crimes against humanity involving the torture and deportation of French resistance members and Jews during World War II.

Rosemarie Scullion, the UI professor of French and Italian who is organizing the visit, explains that Ophuls's film reflects on the suppression in postwar France of the history and memory of Vichy collaboration and of the regime's participation in the political violence that reigned in Nazi-occupied France. The film also raises pointed questions regarding the American intelligence community's involvement in abetting Barbie's flight from Europe following World War II.

Suleiman is C. Douglas Dillon Professor of the Civilization of France and Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard. Born in Budapest, Hungary, Suleiman has brought to her scholarship and teaching an awareness of the complexities involved in the formation of human identity and a deep appreciation of the ways in which historical traumas generated by war, revolution, and genocide haunt the twentieth-century's literary and artistic imagination.

Suleiman's most recent books, "Budapest Diary: In Search of the Mother Book" (1996) and "Risking Who One Is: Encounters with Contemporary Art and Literature" (1996), extend her earlier feminist reflections on gender identity, psychoanalysis, avant-garde aesthetics, history and politics to more personally inflected intellectual concerns relating to her own experiences as a Jewish child in Nazi-occupied Hungary.

In addition to the seven books she has written or edited, Suleiman has written numerous essays that have appeared in leading scholarly journals in her field. She is also the recipient of National Endowment for the Humanities, American Council of Learned Societies, Fulbright, Guggenheim, and Rockefeller research awards. In 1990, she received the Radcliffe Medal for Distinguished Achievement, and in 1992 she was decorated by the French Government as an Office of the Order of Academic Palms (Palmes AcadÈmiques).