Past Programs & Events

Mar 21, 2016

How Jewish Authors Reinvented the American War Novel

Although Jews were only 3.5 percent of the American population in the 1950s, in their war literature they created the template through which Americans saw World War II.  For instance, nearly all of the bestselling American war novels between 1948 and 1961 were by or about Jewish soldiers. In Jewish authored works, members of this statistically marginal population therefore became the principle figures through which the story of World War II was told. Yet the central role of Jews in fictionalizing War World II for a postwar readership has gone unnoticed in literary and historical studies. Either the Jewishness of the writers is uncommented on, or, the Jewishness of the text is negated. This factor is central, because as I will discuss, Jewish authors wrote about the war in very unique ways, and since their novels were bestsellers, they had a direct impact upon how postwar Americans understood the war effort. Revisiting best-selling works ranging from Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead to Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, and uncovering a range of unknown archival material, I will show how Jewish writers used the theme of World War II to reshape the American public’s ideas about war, the Holocaust, and the role of Jews in postwar life. In contrast to most previous war fiction these new “Jewish” war novels were often ironic, funny, and irreverent and sought to teach the reading public broader lessons about liberalism, masculinity, and pluralism.

About the Speaker

LEAH GARRETT is Loti Smorgon Professor of Contemporary Jewish Life and Culture at Monash University in Australia. She has published four books and numerous articles on Jewish literature. Garrett's scholarship has been devoted to understanding how Jewish authors in an array of languages used their literary discourse to enact, reimagine, and subvert conventional ideas about the relationship between Jews and the modern world. This talk is based on her recent book that was shortlisted for the National Jewish Book Award: Young Lions: How Jewish Authors Reinvented the American War Novel (http://www.nupress.northwestern.edu/content/young-lions-1)

 

 

Oct 20, 2015

Under Strange Skies

Discussion with filmmaker Daniel Blaufuks

Daniel Blaufuks, born in Lisbon, 1963, is a Portuguese photographer, the grandson of Polish and German Ashkenazi Jews who moved to Portugal in the late 1920s and 1930s. He moved to Germany in 1976 and returned to Portugal in 1983. In 1991, Daniel Blaufuks published, with Paul Bowles, My Tangier, and in 1994, the London Diaries, followed by Ein Tag in Mostar (1995) and Uma Viagem a S. Petersburgo (1998). At one time or another, he lived in England and the United States and traveled in Europe, India, Russia, Africa and South America.

As well as producing many exhibitions, Daniel Blaufuks directed several films and videos: Life is not a picnic (1998, a film without a story), Black and White (2000, the story of a girl who becomes color-blind), Under Strange Skies (2002, a documentary on the Jewish refugees in Lisbon during and after the Second World War), Reversed Landscapes (2002, a film on Portuguese architecture), and Slightly Smaller than Indiana (2006, a documentary about contemporary Portugal).

Apr 22, 2015

Choiceless Choices: American Missionaries and the Armenian Genocide

What happens when human beings are faced with the ineffable, the incredible, the unimaginable, and the dangerous?  American missionaries to Armenia both witnessed and tried unsuccessfully to prevent the genocide of 1915. This talk explores the element of felt compulsion in European-Ottoman relations and American evangelizing zeal that preceded the genocide. It focuses on why American missionaries first came to Armenia and on their subsequent encounter with the progressively dehumanizing elements of genocide that preceded actual killing: systematic attack on the idea of community and the separation of individuals from notions of the normal in human relations to one another, to property, agency and time.

CAROLYN COLLETTE is Professor Emerita of English and Medieval Studies at Mount Holyoke College, a research fellow at the Centre for Medieval Studies at King's Manor at the University ofYork, and was recently a Mellon Emeritus Faculty Fellow. Her most recent book is /Re-Thinking Chaucer's /Legend of Good Women (York Medieval Press, 2014), and she is well known for her numerous scholarly publications, presentations, and awards. Professor Collette has had a longstanding interest in modern Armenian history and has researched and written about Medieval Armenia and the West. Her presentation at the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies is in connection with her current research on American women missionaries to Armenia from 1850-1905.

 

 

Free and Open to the Public

 

Reception to Follow

 

Mar 30, 2015

Artist Sophie Yanow to Speak on Cities and Social Control in Her Graphic Novel “War of Streets and Houses”

 

Sophie Yanow, artist and teaching fellow at the Center for Cartoon Studies, White River Junction, Vermont, will give a public talk and signing for her innovative and widely-praised graphic novel War of Streets and Houses. Yanow’s book is both personal and political, a diary and memory comic of the Montreal student uprisings of spring 2012 as well as a meditation on city planning, social control, the history of urban design and strategies of repression from Hausmann’s Paris to Marshal Bugead’s tactics in Algeria. Publishers Weekly in a starred review said War of Streets and Houses is “engaging and informative...each illustration conveys a wealth of emotional detail... The book’s quiet deliberation becomes more impressive with each read; Yanow is an author/illustrator to watch.”The Atlantic Cities praised her “deft sketches and minimal text [which show] how the streets of a city can simultaneously foster and crush social change, and how urban humans cling to personal freedom in an increasingly monitored world.”

Yanow studied printmaking and studio arts at the University of California Santa Cruz, and began her comics career in working a Bay Area comics shop. In 2011, she moved to Montreal for a three-month artists residency where she joined the independent, experimental Colosse Collective and published In Situ, a collection of journal comics. She was an invited artist-researcher for the Canadian Center for Architecture’s “C for Condo” workshop, and participated in projects such as the 48 Heures de la Bande Dessinée, the strike-related online Manif de Bonhommes, and La Hausse en Question strike zine. Her work has been widely exhibited in the United States and Canada, and War of Streets and Houses has been an assigned reading in a variety of urban planning and architecture courses. Yanow’s work stands in a tradition of inquiries into the life and nature of cities by Jewish graphic novelists, from Will Eisner’s Dropsie Avenue to Leela Corman’s Unterzakhn.

 

Yanow's appearance is part of a series of visits by women graphic novelists to the Five College area, including talks and signings by Lois Ahrens (The Real Cost of Prisons), Hazel Reed Newlevant (If This Be Sin), and Melissa Mendes (Hampshire College 2006, Freddy Stories). Each graphic novelist speaks in public, open classes in Thompson Hall, Room 106, UMass Amherst, at 10 AM, with Ahrens appearing Weds., March 25th, Newlevant Weds. April 8th, and Mendes. Weds. April 22. Modern Myths, 34 Bridge St # 4, in Northampton, (413) 582-6973, modern-myths.com, will also host talks and signings with Newlevant on Weds. April 8th, talk at 4 PM and signing at 5 PM, and Mendes appearing together with Charles Forman, artist, founder and publisher of Oily comics, Weds. April 22, talk at 4 PM and signing at 5 PM.

 

 

 

Feb 12, 2015

Compostion and Compassion: Ethiopia and Rwanda Memory Transposed

Narration in Imagery, Poetry, and Prose

 

Amy Fagin is a U.S. based visual artist specializing in the traditional art form of manuscript illumination.  Her body of work has forged a meta-modernist contribution to the materials, techniques and theoretical principals used in manuscript illumination as a re-mediated visual art form for contemporary consideration.  She is author of Beyond Genocide; an emerging series of contemporary illuminations narrating a visual arts perspective on global historical legacies of genocide and mass annihilation.  Beyond Genocide is designed as a universally accessible visual arts experience.  Ms. Fagin is also an independent scholar in genocide studies and conducts research / seminars and advisory work on global initiatives of memory and memorialization through individual and collective arts expression and the museum experience. 

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