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This International Women's Day,
please join us for a lecture by Dr. Nancy Sinkoff followed by a panel
discussion with UD Faculty from History, Jewish Studies, and Women and
Monday, March 8th at 7:00 p.m. on Zoom
"𝐆𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 (𝐃𝐢𝐬)𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐮𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞
𝐄𝐮𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐞𝐚𝐧 𝐉𝐞𝐰𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐄𝐧𝐥𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭: 𝐇𝐚𝐧𝐧𝐚𝐡
𝐀𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐭, 𝐋𝐮𝐜𝐲 𝐒. 𝐃𝐚𝐰𝐢𝐝𝐨𝐰𝐢𝐜𝐳, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐍𝐞𝐰
The image of the New York intellectuals, the Jewish public
intellectuals who from their 1930s-nurtured anti-Stalinism became Cold
Warriors in the 1950s and neoconservatives in the 1970s, is decidedly
male. Think Daniel Bell, Irving Kristol, Lionel Trilling, Norman
Nathan Glazer, among others. In "Arguing the World," a 1998 film
documentary on the New York Intellectuals, Diana Trilling's lone female
voice made it clear that women in the group were considered only as
objects of sexual desire and conquest. Yet one woman, the German-Jewish
philosopher, Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) is regularly invoked as a member
of the group in its prewar heyday. Years later, another woman, Lucy S.
Dawidowicz (1915-1990), the historian of Eastern European Jewry and of
the Holocaust, became part of the group as it shifted politically toward
the right and articulated a commitment to Jewish identity and survival.
This lecture will juxtapose the lives of Arendt and Dawidowicz as two
sides of a deep fissure that characterized the encounter of Ashkenazic
Jewry with the modern world. The Ashkenazic Jewish intelligentsia
(maskilim) struggled with the appropriate balance between the values of
universalism and Jewish particularism from the very beginning of the
movement in late eighteenth century Prussia. I contend that Arendt's and
Dawidowicz's divergent interpretations of Jewish communal behavior and
politics during the Holocaust in their famous books, Eichmann in Jerusalem and The War Against the Jews: 1933-1945,
respectively, represent a continuity with earlier Enlightenment debates
about how to balance Jewish identity with full participation in
European society. By putting gender into the scholarship on the New York
intellectuals, I complicate the neat linear line frequently drawn of
the immigrant radical sons burned by the "God That Failed" who turned
rightward politically and back to ethnicity. Instead, it will root the
history of the New York intellectuals, which has heretofore been seen as
a uniquely American phenomenon, in the larger narrative of the
modernization of Ashkenazic Jewry. Moreover, it will give voice to the
female experience within that narrative.
Nancy Sinkoff is a professor of Jewish Studies and History, as well
as the Academic Director of the Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the
Study of Jewish Life at Rutgers University. Her specialties are early
modern and modern Jewish history and intellectual and Eastern European
history. Nancy just published a biography of Lucy Dawidowicz, one of the
first (and female) historians of the Holocaust, and an important New
York intellectual. Nancy’s book is From Left to Right: Lucy S. Dawidowicz, the New York Intellectuals, and the Politics of Jewish History.
This event is free and open to the public. Co-sponsored by University of
Delaware’s Jewish Studies Program, European Studies Program, Department
of History, Department of Women and Gender Studies, and Department of
Please RSVP via this Google form. Information about the Zoom room will be provided via e-mail prior to the event.
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