Category Archives: Recent News

Scott Straus wins Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order

by CJS

Political science professor, CJS faculty member, and author Scott Straus has won the 2018 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order for his 2015 book, “Making and Unmaking Nations: War, Leadership, and Genocide in Modern Africa.”

In the book, Straus, who teaches at University of Wisconsin-Madison, explains how ideas and political messages can become tipping points for genocide. His original research examines patterns and circumstances that have resulted in genocide and contrasts those with similar situations where genocide seemed likely to happen but did not. Straus contends that the “founding narratives” of national leaders can determine whether an ethnic minority is tolerated or deemed a threat to the state.

“Straus’s work alerts us to the circumstances under which genocide emerges and he identifies key points when action by national leaders, and efforts by the international community, can halt the slide into mass violence,” said Charles Ziegler, award director and a member of UofL’s department of political science.

Straus specializes in the study of genocide, political violence, human rights and African politics. He has written extensively about violence in Rwanda. His Grawemeyer Award-winning book and others have garnered high acclaim. His honors include an appointment to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council by President Barack Obama. Before starting in academia, Straus was a freelance journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya.

All 2018 Grawemeyer Award winners will be announced this week, pending formal approval by the university’s board of trustees. The University of Louisville presents the prizes annually for outstanding works in music composition, ideas improving world order, psychology and education, and gives a religion prize jointly with Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. The 2018 winners will present free lectures about their award-winning ideas when they visit Louisville in April to accept their $100,000 prizes.

Mark L. Louden named “Alfred L. Shoemaker, J. William Frey, and Don Yoder Professor of German Linguistics”

by CJS

We would like to extend our congratulations to CJS faculty member Mark L. Louden, recently named the Alfred L. Shoemaker, J. William Frey, and Don Yoder Professor of Germanic Linguistics.

Louden earned his A.B. (1984), M.A. (1987), and Ph.D. (1988) in Germanic linguistics at Cornell University. After serving for twelve years on the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin, he joined the Department of German in 2000. Most of his research and public outreach have centered on the Pennsylvania Dutch language and the Amish and Mennonite groups that speak it. His book, Pennsylvania Dutch: The Story of an American Language (Johns Hopkins UP, 2016), is the first comprehensive history of the language in its cultural and social contexts. In addition to his work on Pennsylvania Dutch, he has published on other German-American languages as well as Yiddish. He has held guest professorships at the Universities of Giessen, Marburg, and Freiburg in Germany and is the recipient of several awards for teaching and research. Committed to the Wisconsin Idea, he delivers approximately twenty-five outreach presentations across the state each year and serves as an interpreter and cultural mediator for Amish in multiple settings.

In 1949, Alfred L. Shoemaker, J. William Frey, and Don Yoder, founded what was at that time a unique institution in American academia, the Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore Center. Devoted in equal measure to rigorous scholarship and public outreach, the PDFC under the leadership of Shoemaker, Frey, and Yoder set out to document and interpret the history, language, and culture of the people known as the Pennsylvania Dutch and to disseminate the fruits of their research among both scholarly and general audiences.

Chad Goldberg’s New Book Named a Finalist for a National Jewish Book Award

by CJS

Modernity and the Jews in Western Social Thought was named a 2017 Finalist in the category “Modern Jewish Thought and Experience.”

Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies director, Simone Schweber, named to Education Committee at national Holocaust museum

by CJS Admin

UW’s Schweber named to Education Committee at national Holocaust museum

Professor Steven Nadler discusses 17th century philosopher Spinoza with Inside UW-Madison

by CJS Admin

Q&A: Spinoza probably wouldn’t care, but debate over forgiving him goes on

2015 Greenfield Brochure

by CJS

Greenfield 2015 Brochure


by CJS


Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies “Donor Wall” Art Competition

by CJS

The Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is soliciting designs for a work of art to honor the Center’s donors.

The design should be appropriate for a Center for Jewish Studies. The finished piece, in any medium, needs to be transportable. The finished piece should not exceed 50 x 100 x 12 inches. You may want to think of a way to incorporate donor names into the design.

To enter the design competition, please include:

  • A description of the proposed artwork and how it relates to Jewish Studies–no more than one page
  • An approximate budget to create the artwork
  • A rendering of the proposed artwork
  • A sample portfolio via weblink or preferred medium

Please email your submission to with the subject link: CJS Artwork Proposal. Deadline for submissions: February 1, 2016.

First Prize: $1,080 plus the costs associated with construction

Honorable Mention: $360

Entrants must be enrolled students at UW-Madison and must be able to produce the proposed work. The finished work will be displayed at the Center for Jewish Studies.

Winners announced before May 15

Kutler Lectures: Lila Corwin Berman

by CJS


Lila Corwin Berman, Temple University Cropped_BermanLilaHeadshot

Event Details

“The Death & Life of Jewish Urbanism”

Monday, November 9, 4:00 p.m.

Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery (300 N. Orchard)

In modern times, Jews emerged as the consummate urban dwellers.  How, then, were Jewish and urban life transformed when Jews joined the droves of Americans who left cities for suburbs after World War II?  Drawing from her extensive research on Detroit, Lila Corwin Berman suggests that, contrary to the history of white flight, the story of Jewish migration away from cities is one of enduring—and tension-filled—urban entanglement.

“Who Gives? The American Jewish Philanthropic Complex”

Tuesday, November 10, 4:00 p.m.

Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery (300 N. Orchard)

By the beginning of the twenty-first century, American Jewish philanthropy attained a nearly unchallenged position as a producer of norms, institutions, and community practices. In a word, it had grown into a “complex.” Lila Corwin Berman argues that since World War II critical changes in American economic and political policy intersected with transformations in American-Jewish life to endow Jewish philanthropy with unprecedented governing power.

About the Speaker

Lila Corwin Berman is Associate Professor of History at Temple University. She holds the Murray Friedman Chair of American Jewish History and directs the Feinstein Center for American Jewish History. Berman received her B.A. from Amherst College and her Ph.D. from Yale. She is author of Metropolitan Jews: Politics, Race, and Religion in Postwar Detroit (University of Chicago, 2015), for which she received support from the National Endowment of the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies. Her first book, Speaking of Jews: Rabbis, Intellectuals, and the Creation of an American Public Identity (California, 2009), was awarded recognition from the Center for Jewish History and the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, and was a finalist for the Jewish Book Council’s Sami Rohr Prize. She is currently writing a book tentatively titled “The American Jewish Philanthropic Complex” and received a fellowship from the Center for the Humanities at Temple to support her work on it. Her articles have appeared in the Journal of American History, Jewish Social Studies, the Forward, Religion and American Culture, Sh’ma, and American Jewish History, and she has also contributed chapters to several anthologies, including, most recently, an essay entitled “American-Jewish Politics Is Urban Politics,” in Faithful Republic: Religion and Politics in the Twentieth Century United States (Penn, 2015).

Tobias Lecture: Omer Bartov, “The Voice of Your Brother’s Blood: The Murder of a Town in Eastern Galicia”

by CJS

SpeakerOmer Bartov_0001

Omer Bartov, John P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of History and Professor of German Studies, Brown University

Event Details

“The Voice of Your Brother’s Blood: The Murder of a Town in Eastern Galicia”

Monday, October 26, 4:00 p.m.

159 Education Building (1000 Bascom Mall)

This lecture will reconstruct the destruction of the town of Buczacz in Polish Eastern Galicia, now in Western Ukraine, during World War II. Buczacz, the hometown of the Nobel Prize laureate Shmuel Yosef Agnon, as well as of Bartov’s mother, had existed for centuries as a multiethnic town made up of Poles, Jews, and Ukrainians. During the German occupation of 1941-44, the vast majority of the Jewish inhabitants were murdered by the Germans, with ample assistance from Ukrainian policemen, and the Polish population was ethnically cleansed by Ukrainian nationalists. How was a community of coexistence transformed into a community of genocide? This lecture, based on a major monograph about to be completed, investigates the daily life of genocide as reflected through the documents, eyewitness reports, postwar trials, testimonies, and memoirs of its inhabitants and the men and women who occupied the town and spent several comfortable years in the midst of the horror they facilitated.

This lecture is made possible through the generosity of Harry and Marjorie Tobias.

About the Speaker

Omer Bartov was born in Israel and educated at Tel Aviv University and St. Antony’s College, Oxford, Omer Bartov’s early research concerned the Nazi indoctrination of the Wehrmacht and the crimes it committed in World War II, analyzed in his books, The Eastern Front, 1941-1945, and Hitler’s Army. He then turned to the links between total war and genocide, discussed in his books Murder in Our Midst, Mirrors of Destruction, and Germany’s War and the Holocaust. Bartov’s interest in representation also led to his study, The “Jew” in Cinema, which examines the recycling of antisemitic stereotypes in film. His last monograph, Erased, investigates interethnic relations in the borderlands of Eastern Europe. As a framework for this research, he led a multi-year collaborative project at the Watson Institute, culminating in the co-edited volume, Shatterzone of Empires. Bartov is currently completing a major monograph, The Voice of Your Brother’s Blood: Buczacz, Biography of a Town.