Sites/Traces/Manifestations of Jewish Pasts, Presents, and Futures

The Chicago Center for Jewish Studies, the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory, the University of Chicago Office of the Provost, and the Franke Institute for the Humanities are pleased to present
Sites/Traces/Manifestations of Jewish Pasts, Presents, and Futures

A two-day workshop at the University of Chicago

December 1-2, 2011

While agreement concerning the importance of commemorating and transmitting Jewish history is easy to achieve, questions of both which parts of the past should be emphasized and the best media for that commemoration and transmission are far more controversial. Should priority be placed on remembering the violence done to Jews or documenting Jewish communal, religious, intellectual, or cultural life? Are different genres needed when the primary intended audience are Jews or non-Jews? What can best be done by artists, whether photographers, film-makers, composers, novelists, or poets? What can scholarship and classroom teaching best convey? What is the role of museums and archives in this memory labor?

The workshop will focus on efforts in France, Germany and the United States, in a variety of genres, to transmit aspects of the Jewish past to contemporary audiences including both Jews and non-Jews, children and adults, scholars and lay people. Most of the proposed participants engage the question of transmission of the experiences of European Jews in the 20th century, but some are concerned with either earlier times or other places. While one could obviously expand the range of Jewish histories included here, such an expansion would render an already complex problematic unwieldy. The challenges of communicating ancient or medieval Jewish history, or that of the Falasha or Jews in India, to contemporary European and U.S. audiences are different from those of the more recent and seemingly more familiar histories of the 20th century.

For more information about the workshop, including bios of the workshop presenters, see the workshop blog at:

The workshop is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is requested, and we request that the participants commit to attend the entire workshop. Contact Christina Heisser at or 773-702-7108 to register.

Workshop Program (session times are subject to slight changes)

Thursday, December 1, 2011
Franke Institute Seminar Room, East Wing of Regenstein Library, 1100 East 57th Street

9:30-10:30 am – “Introduction: The Senses, Media and Memory,” Leora Auslander, University of Chicago

Session 1: Museums
10:30 am-12:00 pm – “The Dilemma of Jewish Museums after 1945: Holocaust Site or History Museum?” Cilly Kugelmann, Jewish Museum Berlin
12:00-1:00 pm – Lunch

Session 2: Still images
1:00-1:30 pm – Time to look at work of Ellen Rothenberg and Anna Shteynshleyger
1:30-3:00 pm – Discussion with Ellen Rothenberg, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Anna Shteynshleyger, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
3:00-3:30 pm – Break

Session 3: Text
3:30-5:00 pm – “Revisiting an Unusable Past: Yehoshue Perle’s Witness to the Great Deportation of the Warsaw Ghetto,” Sven Erik Rose, Miami University (Ohio)

Session 4: Music
Swift Hall, Common Room, 1025 E. 58th St.
5:30-6:00 pm – Introduction to the New Budapest Orpheum Society, Philip Bohlman, University of Chicago
6:00-7:00 pm – Concert
7:00-8:00 pm – Discussion

Friday, December 2, 2011

Session 5: Text/Manuscript Collections
Special Collections Classroom, Regenstein Library, 1100 East 57th Street
9:30-10:30 am – “Collectors of the Book: Jewish Book Collections in American Libraries,” Alice Schreyer, University of Chicago
10:30-11:30 am – “The last letters from Germany: After the death of the parents, the children discover the letters of the grandparents,” Frank Mecklenburg, Leo Baeck Institute
11:30 am-12:30 pm – Discussion
1:00-2:00 pm – Lunch

Session seven: Film
Film Studies Center, Cobb Hall Rm. 310
2:15-3:15 pm – “Refugees, Remnants, Reanimations: Embodied History, and the Cinema Trace,” Jeffrey Skoller, University of California, Berkeley
3:30-3:45 pm – Daniel Eisenberg, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Introduction to Persistence
3:45-5:00 pm – Screening of Persistence
5:00-6:15 pm – Discussion (Rosenwald Hall, Rm. 405)

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