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The University of Southampton
The Parkes Institute

Karten Memorial Lecture | Lucy S. Dawidowicz (1915-1990) and the Beginnings of Khurbn forshung (Holocaust Studies) in the United States Seminar

Karten Memorial Lecture 2023
7 February 2023
Online via Zoom

For more information regarding this seminar, please email .

Event details

This lecture is part of the Parkes Institute 22/23 Event and Seminar series.

This talk will explore the contribution of Lucy S. Dawidowicz (1915-1990), a postwar American Jewish public intellectual and historian, to the field of Holocaust historiography. Witness to the vital Jewish world of pre-war Vilna and to its destruction, Dawidowicz devoted her life to bringing this world to the attention of the American public. Her The War Against the Jews: 1933–1945 (1975), a classic of “intentionalist” Holocaust historiography that emphasized the centrality of Hitler’s antisemitic ideology to the Nazis’ “Final Solution,” burnished her reputation as an authority on East European Jewry, the Holocaust, and antisemitism, preparing her to play a principal role in the construction of postwar American Holocaust consciousness. This talk will analyze her relationship to the tradition of Jewish historiography inaugurated by Simon Dubnow (1860-1941) in the late nineteenth century and continued by East European Jews before, during, and in the aftermath of the Nazi period, both in and beyond Eastern Europe. Dubnow and his disciples–including Dawidowicz–conceived of their work not only to further academic knowledge, but also to commemorate the dead and to cultivate Jewish national identity.

About the Speaker

Nancy Sinkoff is Professor of Jewish Studies and History and the Academic Director of the Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life at Rutgers University. She is author of From Left to Right: Lucy S. Dawidowicz, the New York Intellectuals, and the Politics of Jewish History (2020; pb. 2023), winner of the fall 2020 Natan Notable Book award and the 2020 National Jewish Book Award in the category of biography; the co-edited volume (with Rebecca Cypess), Sara Levy’s World: Gender, Judaism, and the Bach Tradition in Enlightenment Berlin (2018), winner of the outstanding book prize from the Jewish Studies and Music Study Group of the American Musicological Society. The co-edited volume (with Halina Goldberg), Polish Jewish Culture Beyond the Capital: Centering the Periphery , is forthcoming in spring 2023. Her first book, Out of the Shtetl: Making Jews Modern in the Polish Borderlands , was reissued digitally with a new preface (Brown Judaic Studies, 2004; 2020).

Nancy Sinkoff
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