Exploring themes raised by "The Pendulum"


Julie Catterson Lindahl


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Welcome to this course based on the memoir "The Pendulum." My name is Julie Lindahl, and I am an author and researcher fascinated by history, its reverberations and implications. In this course we will explore themes raised by "The Pendulum," which I wrote based on several years' intensive research. "The Pendulum" puts the focus on our relationship to history, and how we are affected by it as individuals in our families and communities.

The course includes webinars and a number of tasks or modules which can be used for discussion and/or written assignments. It also enables you to post discussion points and questions so that we can communicate directly about the various topics.

Below you will find:

  • a summary of "The Pendulum," as it appears on the back cover of the book;
  • information about me and my qualifications for writing the book and running this course;
  • a table of contents of the modules or tasks in the course;
  • a summary of learning objectives and outcomes;
  • how to use this course and how much time it takes.



Summary of "The Pendulum":

Is it possible to draw a line under history, particularly when that history involves our families? If we accept that there are certain essential things about the past that cannot be spoken of, does that impact us and the generations that follow? If we choose to delve into that history, are we prepared to face the consequences?

These are among the issues taken up by "The Pendulum," an autobiographical account of a Brazilian-born granddaughter who faces each of these questions, and eventually finds that she has no choice but to look into her family's past and the part it played in National Socialism and the SS.

With this book, Lindahl demonstrates why, within the vast majority of families over seventy years after the end of the Second World War, the painful work of facing the past has only just begun.


About Julie Lindahl

Julie Lindahl holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Wellesley College, was a Fulbright scholar in Germany and holds a Master of Philosophy in International Relations from Oxford University. 

During her six-year research process resulting in the publication of "The Pendulum" she was named Stevens Traveling Fellow 2015-16 from Wellesley College which generously agreed to sponsor her ongoing research work. In 2013 she was also named Honorary Research Associate of University College London in connection with its ongoing work on reverberations of war in Germany and Europe since 1945. She continues to write and speak widely in schools, youth centers and other institutions in Europe and the U.S. about her work.

She is the founder of Stories for Society, a non-profit devoted to improving learning and communication through story-making among youth.

For further information visit www.julielindahl.com.



The following tasks or modules should be completed following a 90 minute live webinar with me which also includes a Powerpoint Presentation that will be shared on this platform.

1    Overall Reflections

2    The Ideology of National Socialism

3    Radicalization

4    Reverberations of History

        4.1 Shame, Guilt and Scapegoats

        4.2 The Right to History

        4.3  Taboos and Drawing a Line under History

        4.4  Consequences of Researching Forbidden History

5    Researching History

        5.1 Objectivity, Subjectivity and the Truth

        5.2 Tools

6    Practical Exercises in Historical Research

        6.1 Evaluating the validity and context of a statement in a secondary source

        6.2 Determining the validity of a primary document

        6.3 Examining a revisionist argument


Learning Objectives and Outcomes

The course should support a discussion of themes related both to Nazism and WWII, but also to the study of history overall. The outcomes of the course will be a heightened awareness of the relevance of history to today and the importance of our engagement with it.


Course Use and Duration

You may choose to run through the course in one week or through several weeks. It is not necessary to run through all of the modules consecutively as each stands on its own. I estimate that you will require 12-15 hours to complete the course, depending on whether some of the tasks/modules are completed in written form. This excludes the 90 minute webinar we do together at the beginning of the course.


Course content

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