Kutler Lectures: Stephen J. Whitfield

by CJS


Professor Stephen J. Whitfield, Brandeis University

Professor Whitfield’s lectures are made possible through the generosity of Stanley and Sandra Kutler.

Parking for the Education Building is available at Helen C. White Hall (Lot 6), 600 N. Park Street.


“The Unity of Prejudice: The Rise and Fall of an Idea”
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
4:00 p.m.
Wisconsin Idea Room, Education Building (1000 Bascom Mall)

From roughly 1940 until roughly 1960, decades when antisemitism and racial prejudice emerged as major concerns of social science and of popular culture in the United States, the claim was commonly advanced that prejudice is unitary and homogeneous. The minorities who were its chief victims were presumed to be virtually interchangeable. Jewish defense agencies may well have hoped to advance the cause of protecting the rights of Jews by emphasizing what they shared with other targets of bigotry; and the novel, the stage, the screen reinforced the implication that Jews were not distinguishable from other objects of religious and racial prejudice. But such a case soon became untenable, for reasons that require consideration.

“Franz Boas: The Intellectual as Anti-Racist”
Thursday, October 17, 2013
4:00 p.m.
Wisconsin Idea Room, Education Building (1000 Bascom Mall)

No white intellectual did more to defeat the racism that pervaded the assumptions undergirding American race relations in the twentieth century than Franz Boas (1858-1942). He did so as a public intellectual whose authority in social science stemmed from his unsurpassed command of the field of anthropology in roughly the first half of the century. Almost no one was a more influential teacher; perhaps no one saw more clearly the way that his academic work in physical and cultural anthropolgy could also advance the struggle for racial justice. And almost certainly no intellectual was more hated by white supremacists than Boas, whose Jewish identity needs to be connected to his record of opposition to hierarchical notions of race.

Listen to Lectures

This lecture will be available for download through iTunes U, approximately two weeks after the lecture date. Click here for more information.

About the Speaker

Professor Stephen J. Whitfield holds the Max Richter Chair in American Civilization at Brandeis University, where he has taught since 1972. He is the author of eight books, including The Culture of the Cold War, A Death in the Delta: The Story of Emmett Till, Into the Dark: Hannah Arendt and Totalitarianism, A Critical American: The politics of Dwight Macdonald, and In Search of American Jewish Culture. He has taught abroad, serving as Fulbright Visiting Professor of American Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve and Leuven (Belgium). He has twice taught American Studies at the Sorbonne, and he taught most recently as Allianz Professor of American Jewish Studies at the University of Munich.