Past Programs & Events

Oct 7, 2014

Guilt and Punishment: German Civilians, 1946

Stig Dagerman, a twenty-three year old radical Swedish journalist, writes a series of articles from postwar Germany. The articles are later collected in German Autumn – a book that becomes a classic. Lo Dagerman discusses her father and why he wanted to tell this story.

Lo Dagerman is the daughter of Stig Dagerman and actress Anita Björk.  Lo has lived in the United States for more than thirty years. She holds Master Degrees from MIT and JHU, and has most recently worked as a school counselor in the Washington D.C. area, where she lives with her husband Brian Levy. Lo is a driving force in the effort to introduce Stig Dagerman’s writing in the United States.

Jun 15, 2014

Four Prominent Jewish Women Graphic Novelists to Present Lecture Series, Workshops at UMass Amherst

AMHERST, Mass – Four outstanding Jewish women graphic novelists are coming to the University of Massachusetts to present talks on their work, and to offer four days of workshops on writing and drawing comics and graphic novels. Leela Corman (Unterzakhin), Sarah Glidden (How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less), Liana Finck (A Bintel Brief, Love and Longing in Old New York), and Israeli cartoonist and comics historian Keren Katz will present talks on their work and a panel on Jewish women graphic novelists on four consecutive days at 7 PM at four venues, from Monday, June 16th through Thursday, June 19th.

In addition, the artists will offer four days of workshops on writing and drawing comics and graphic novels, free and open to high school and college and graduate students and recent graduates who would like to learn more about creating their own comics. The workshops will be from 10 AM to 2 PM, from Monday, June 16th to Thursday, June 19th.

Leela Corman’s most recent graphic novel, Unterzakhn, the story of two sisters in the Jewish immigrant world of New York’s Lower East Side in the 1910s, has been called “haunting and often heartbreaking” (Austin Statesman) and “subtly feminist and thoroughly fascinating” (Sacramento News & Review). Corman’s senior thesis at the Massachusetts College of Art won a Xeric Grant and was published as her first graphic novel. She is a successful illustrator whose work has appeared in books on urban gardening, the New York Times, Bust Magazine, and Tablet. She is also a Middle Eastern dancer.

Sarah Glidden is a graphic novelist, illustrator, and cartoon journalist whose acclaimed book, How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, recounting her Birthright trip to the Middle East, is an “intrepid if relentless quest for cultural understanding” (L.A. Times) with “bright, delicate watercolors that belie our heroine's unresolved struggle with history and heritage” (Publishers Weekly). A graduate of Boston University, Glidden traveled to Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria with the journalism collective the Seattle Globalist. Rolling Blackouts, a graphic novel which recounts the story of the journalists and their work reporting on the fallout of the War on Terror, will be published by Drawn & Quarterly in 2015.

Liana Finck’s first graphic novel, A Bintel Brief, Love and Longing in Old New York, based on the advice to Jewish immigrants column in the Yiddish newspaper Forverts, was exhibited last year at the Yiddish Book Center. The New York Times said it’s “like Lost in Translation set to klezmer… an invaluable sooty window onto life on the Lower East Side.” A graduate of New York’s Cooper Union, Finck began cartooning during a year-long Fulbright scholarship in Belgium, won a Six Points Fellowship for Emerging Jewish Artists, and has published cartoons and illustrations in the New Yorker, Tablet, the Forward, and has created book covers for several publishers. 

Keren Katz is an Israeli cartoonist, poet, and comic historian who has spoken on the history of Israeli comics at a variety of colleges and universities and is currently assisting Richard McGuire on the graphic novel Here. She is a graduate of the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Tel Aviv, where she studied with Rutu Modan, and the MFA Illustration as Visual Essay program at the School of Visual Arts. Her illustrations have been published by the New York Times, Brooklyn Rail, Einayim Magazine for Children, Achbar Ha-Ir, Carrier Pigeon, and Seven Stories Press.

A panel discussion on Jewish women and the graphic novel, moderated by Keren Katz, will be held on Wednesday, June 18th in the Cape Cod Lounge, in the Student Union Building on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The panel will include both artists and scholars specializing in Jewish women’s studies and graphic novels. The participating artists will sign copies of their graphic novels at the event.

The four artists will offer four days of workshops on writing and drawing comics and graphic novels open to high school, college and graduate students and recent graduates. The workshops will be from 10 AM to 2 PM, from Monday, June 16th to Thursday, June 19th, and all will be held at the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, 758 N Pleasant St. at Governors Dr., in Amherst, (413) 835-0221, Art supplies will be provided, and no previous experience in comics is required. Any student who is interested in this artistic medium is welcome, and students may attend any or all of the workshops. To register, email the chair of the organizing committee for the event @ nccouch@gmailcom.

As a prelude to the Jewish Women’s Graphic Novel Seminar and Workshop Series, the Yiddish Book Center will host an opening lecture by N. C. Christopher Couch, Visiting Posen Professor of Jewish Secular Culture, Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies, University of Massachusetts Amherst on Sunday evening, June 15th, at 7 PM entitled “The Jewish Tradition in American Comic Art.” 

These events, sponsored by the Posen Foundation for the Study of Jewish Secularism; the Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies; the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies; the Department of Art, Architecture, and Art History; the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; and the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst are free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible.  For more information, email or call 347-206-8974.

Apr 29, 2014

Henia Lewin

Child Survivor of the Holocaust

The Institute and the UMass Hillel House organized this program together in conjunction with Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Lewin discussed the experiences of her and her family as survivors of Lithuanian and German persecution during the Second World War.  

Apr 18, 2014

The Content of the Form: Interventions into the Representation of War

Comparative Literature will bring six artists, writers, and scholars together to talk about their work; the conversation will address how different representations of war, written and visual, fictional and non-fictional, contribute to our knowledge and perceptions of particular conflicts. The symposium features three panels on three different war zones: the Spanish Civil War, the recent war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Speakers: Francesc Torres and Carlo Ramos; Nebojša Šerić Shobaand Una Tanović; Roy Scranton and Tyler Boudreau. The symposium will end with a roundtable moderated by James Young. 

Co-sponsors include The College of Humanities and Fine Arts, the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Culture, the English Department, and the Program in Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Massaschusetts, Amherst as well as its Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies, Translation Center, the University Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Massachusetts Review.

Apr 7, 2014

Inside the "Hotel Rwanda": The Surprising True Story, and Why It Matters Today

    It was the 2004 Academy Award–nominated movie Hotel Rwanda that introduced most Westerners to the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. It has been used in almost every high school and college in America as a teaching tool. The film lionized hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina for single-handedly saving the lives of all who sought refuge in the Hotel des Milles Collines during the genocide. Because of the film, the real-life Rusesabagina has been compared to Oskar Schindler, but unbeknownst to the public, the hotel’s refugees do not endorse the movie's version of the events.
    Is Hollywood a reliable chronicler of history, held to the same standards as journalists and historians? Should Hollywood films be our sole source of historic information in classrooms?  On this, the 20th anniversary commemoration of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, hear the true story of what really happened inside the "Hotel Rwanda" from those who were there -- Hutu, Tutsi, UN peacekeepers, and diplomats -- and why the real truth of how hundreds there were saved still matters today. 

American Kerry Zukus is a full-time author, ghostwriter, and memoirist, having written over 40 books under his own name and others. He is the co-author of Inside the "Hotel Rwanda": The Surprising True Story, and Why It Matters Today (BenBella Books, March 25, 2014) with Edouard Kayihura, a Rwandan survivor of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda and a refugee from the Hotel Milles Collines. Along with Kayihura, he has spent the past seven years interviewing refugees, UN peacekeepers, diplomats, and others to weave together the true story of what really happened inside the "Hotel Rwanda."