AU Press Releases

Jewish studies lecture to explore Ukrainian Holocaust memories

Marianne Hirsch of Columbia University will deliver the second annual Leonard and Saradona Lefkowitz Lecture in Jewish Studies at Alfred University at 5:15 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 15 in Nevins Theatre, Powell Campus Center. A reception will follow the program which is open to the public free of charge.

Hirsch’s talk, titled "Fantasies of Return: Memory and Postmemory After the Holocaust," will explore memories of the vibrant Jewish community of Czernowitz, Ukraine, which, though vanishing after World War II, left an inspired legacy in Jewish literature, culture, and memory.

Hirsch is the William Peterfield Trent Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and professor in the Institute for Research on Women and Gender. She is also the co-director of the Center for the Critical Analysis of Social Difference and second vice president of the Modern Language Association of America.

Hirsch has devoted much of her academic career to the issues of the Holocaust and memory and postmemory. She co-authored the book "Ghosts of Home: The Afterlife of Czernowitz in Jewish Memory and History" with Leo Spitzer in 2010, and her own book, "The Generation of Postmemory: Visual Culture After the Holocaust" is set to be released in spring 2012. Other recent publications include "Rites of Return: Diaspora, Poetics and the Politics of Memory" (co-ed. 2011) and "Teaching the Representation of the Holocaust" (co-ed. 2004). She also serves on advisory boards of Contemporary Women’s Writing and Memory Studies.

Copies of some of her books, including "Ghosts of Home," will be available in the Alfred University bookstore in the week leading up to the lecture and can also be purchased at the lecture.

Hirsch was born in Romania and educated at Brown University, where she earned bachelor of arts, master of arts, and Ph.D. degrees.

"Marianne Hirsch is an engaging and engaged scholar," said Mary McGee, dean of the Alfred University College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. "This is a tremendous opportunity for our Alfred community to host such a renowned as well as generous scholar, whose Alfred lecture will resonate with all of us in different ways, as we think about how family memories shape our own understanding of history and culture."

The annual Lefkowitz Lecture series is endowed by Dr. Leonard Lefkowitz, a 1957 alumnus of Alfred University, and his wife, Saradona Lefkowitz. The couple endowed this lectureship within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to help cultivate knowledge and understanding about Jewish cultural and historical experiences, serving Jewish students on campus as well as educating the entire Alfred community.

McGee notes that "Dr. and Mrs. Lefkowitz have had a lifelong devotion to Jewish heritage, culture and study, and this annual lectureship allows the Lefkowitzes to share their passion with Alfred University on an on-going and long term basis."

In choosing someone to deliver this annual lecture, the Lefkowitz Lecture Selection Committee, which includes faculty and students, looks to find an outstanding scholar and engaging speaker who will have broad appeal across our Alfred community. Hirsch is such a scholar; her work, which integrates multiple disciplines, illuminates our understanding of cultural memory through her examination of history, literature, art, family, and photography, said McGee.

For more information about the Lefkowitz Lecture in Jewish Studies, please contact Mary McGee, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, at (607) 871-2171.