Past Programs & Events

Nov 16, 2016

Book Launch for James E. Young, The Stages of Memory: Reflections on Memorial Art, Loss, and the Spaces Between

Published by University of Massachusetts Press

James E. Young is founding director of the Institute andEmeritus Distinguished Professor of English and Judaic and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has served on juries that selected designs for the 9/11 Memorial and the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. In his new book, The Stages of Memory: Reflections on Memorial Art, Loss, and the Spaces Between, published by University of Massachusetts Press, Young reflects on the expectations that countries bring to their painful memorial debates. 


A reception with refreshments will precede the book talk, which will begin at 5.

A book sale and signing will follow this program. Thank you to Amherst Books for handling book sales.

New York City Book Event, November 10 at 7 at the 9/11 Memorial Museum:

Nov 14, 2016

You are invited to a presentation by Ruth Ravina, a survivor of the Holocaust from Poland

Ruth Ravina speaks frequently to school and community groups in her home state of New Jersey. She was born in 1937 in Kozienice, Poland. After her parents were taken by the Nazis to a slave labor camp, she remained with her grandparents and cousins. When the ghetto was about to be liquidated, three Jewish girls escaped, taking Ravina with them and bringing her to the home of a Christian Polish family, where she was sheltered for some time. After six months, she was smuggled to her mother inside the slave labor camp. Her mother succeeded in hiding her through two different camps. Her father died in the Buchenwald concentration camp. Ruth Ravina was the only Jewish child from her hometown who survived the war.

Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies
University of Massachusetts Amherst
758 North Pleasant Street
Amherst, MA 01002

Nov 1, 2016

Last Yiddish Heroes: Lost and Found Songs of Soviet Jews during World War II


During and just after World War II, folklorist Moshe Beregovsky and the Kiev Cabinet for Jewish Culture collected original Yiddish songs written by Soviet Jews. But in 1949, the Soviet government confiscated and hid away the songs. In this all-new concert and lecture program, singer-songwriter Psoy Korolenko and historian Anna Shternshis bring these lost Yiddish songs to life and share the incredible stories behind these treasures.

Pavel Lion, a.k.a. Psoy Korolenko, is one of Russia’s most popular – and clever – songwriters, as well as a pre-eminent Yiddish singer. He is a Moscow based singer/songwriter, translator, scholar and journalist. Self-referred to as a ''wandering scholar'' and an ''avant-bard'', he is know for his multilingual one-person cabaret-esque shows, which balance folk and klezmer music, free-style poetry and intellectual comedy. Psoy writes and sings in English, Russian, Yiddish, and French. On stage since 2000, he has published one book of selected essays and song lyrics ''The Hit Of The Century'', and 14 CDs – some of them in collaboration with active Jewish and Klezmer musicians ("Opa!", Daniel Kahn, Igor Krutogolov, "Oy Division").  Psoy is a member of the organizing committee for a Russian American music festival JetLAG, a guest of many klezmer music festivals, and an ex-artist in residence at the Trinity College (Hartford), University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA). An author of insightful and sophisticated Russian sung poetry, Psoy is also known for his keen and explorative vision of the art of translation, “tradaptation” and what he calls Spell-Art (i.e. playing with foreign text, emphasizing linguistic distances, multilingual songs etc).

Anna Shternshis holds the position of Al and Malka Green Associate Professor of Yiddish studies at the University of Toronto. She is also the Director of the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. She received her doctoral degree (D.Phil) in Modern Languages and Literatures from Oxford University in 2001.  Shternshis is the author of Soviet and Kosher: Jewish Popular Culture in the Soviet Union, 1923 - 1939 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006). Her second book entitled When Sonia Met Boris: Jewish Daily Life in Soviet Russia is forthcoming from Oxford University Press in 2017. She is currently working on the book-length study of evacuation and escape of Soviet Jews during World War II. She is the author of twenty articles on topics of Russian Jewish culture and post-Soviet Jewish diaspora. Shternshis is a co-editor-in-chief of East European Jewish Affairs.


Oct 5, 2016

The Making of the Secular Witness: From David Rousset to the "Survivor"

This talk will explore one chapter in the history of a particular concept of humanity forged in suffering and survival, symbolized by the secular witness.  It discusses the defamation trial of French writer David Rousset (author of "The Concentrationary Universe," or "L'Univers concentrationnaire), which became shorthand for camp life in the decade after the Second World War.  It addresses how he used the trial to generate a victim-centered testimonial practice only fully developed after the Eichmann trial.  The paper will summarize the features and history of the survivor icon conceived as part of the historical development of contemporary moral culture.


Carolyn J. Dean is Charles J. Stille Professor of History and French at Yale University and the author of five books, most recently Aversion and Erasure: The Fate of the Victim after the Holocaust (Cornell, 2010).

Sep 21, 2016

Defined Out of Existence: The U.S. Government's Continuing Attempt to Remove and Replace American Indians

From first contact, those who arrived in what is now known as the United States have used diverse methods to decrease the number of peoples indigenous to the land. First, physical elimination via war and smallpox was the most expedient method. After the formation of the U.S. government, federal policies were enacted to eliminate American Indians using more politically correct means. The policies varied in name and effectiveness and included removal, relocation, assimilation, reservations, and more. Today's policy era is known as Self-Determination, but in reality entails the U.S. government’s determination of the definitions of "Indian" and "tribe." This is the modern, most politically correct means of decreasing the number of Indigenous peoples who remain on this land. Sadly, it has been quite effective; it reminds us that nothing has changed since 1492 and that the desire to remove and replace American Indians from this land still persists.


Kathleen Brown-Perez is a Senior Lecturer in the Honors College at UMass Amherst. Among other courses, she teaches federal Indian law and policy as well as Criminal Law, which includes a section on criminal jurisdiction in Indian Country. Kathleen is a graduate of the University of Iowa, having received her MBA and JD there. She joined the faculty in Commonwealth Honors College after working as a corporate lawyer in Boston. She now limits her practice to federal Indian law, providing consultation services to law firms suing the U.S. government on behalf of tribes. Kathleen is an enrolled member of the Eeyam Quittoowauconuck (Brothertown Indian Nation, Wisconsin). Her publications include books and articles on federal Indian law, administrative law, and labor/employment law. In addition to writing, she has extensive editing experience, having served on the inaugural editorial board of the Native American and Indigenous Studies journal.