News

Renowned Holocaust Scholar Will Highlight German Studies Conference

by Robert Abare '13
Omer Bartov
Omer Bartov is a foremost authority in Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

Davidson College and UNC Charlotte invite the public to attend the 2014 Southeast German Studies Workshop Thursday and Friday, March 27 and 28.

This annual workshop will gather approximately 50 faculty members, graduate students and advanced undergraduate students from the Southeastern United States who study the history, society and cultures of German-speaking Central Europe. The program will include panel discussions on the topics of "War," "Language" and "Borders/Boundaries," as well as a keynote lecture by preeminent Holocaust scholar Omer Bartov.

Bartov, John P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History and Professor of History and German Studies at Brown University, will speak about "The Voice of Your Brother's Blood: The Holocaust as Communal Genocide," beginning at 4:30 p.m. on March 27 at the UNC Charlotte Center City campus auditorium. The lecture will be followed at 6:30 p.m. by a public reception.

Bartov, one of the foremost authorities in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, attended Tel Aviv University and Oxford University. He was named a 1989-1992 Junior Harvard Fellow and the 2002 Guggenheim Fellow, among other accolades. He has published seven books and three edited volumes that transformed his field of study and have been translated into many languages.

Thomas Pegelow Kaplan, associate professor of history at Davidson and co-organizer of the workshop, said Bartov's lecture should have wide appeal. "The Nazi Genocide of European Jewry is a topic of great concern not just for those interested in German studies, but also for those interested in modern Europe, war, Jewish and global history," he said. "The broader themes of both Bartov's lecture and the workshop's panel discussions are highly pertinent in today's world."

All three of the workshop's panel discussions will take place at Davidson College in the Alvarez College Union Smith 900 Room. "War" will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 27. The panels on "Language" and "Borders/Boundaries" will begin on Friday, March 28, at 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m., respectively.

Preceding the panel discussions, participating scholars will write brief papers on one of the title topics. The papers will then be compiled and distributed to the other participants in order to initiate scholarly dialogue. Pegelow Kaplan, who was influential in bringing the workshop to Charlotte and Davidson, explained, "The panel topics are meant to be broad enough to lend themselves to interdisciplinary discussion."

The panel on "War" is a nod to the centennial anniversary of World War I, and will consider the central role of Germany in past and current international conflicts. The panel on "Language" will allow cultural and linguistic scholars to discuss the evolution and influence of the German language on collective identity and the perpetration of violence, and "Borders/Boundaries" will foster an interdisciplinary reflection on the current immigration debate in Central Europe and the question of what it means to be German.

Davidson students Emily Storms '16, Emily Taylor '16, Nick Evans '14 and Graham Whittington '14 will each participate in a panel along with graduate students and established experts. Davidson is the first liberal arts college to host the Southeast German Studies Workshop, and the Davidson students will be the first undergraduate students to participate as panel members in the annual gathering.

Pegelow Kaplan said he is eager to dispel the notion that undergraduate-teaching institutions like Davidson don't possess respectable scholars or yield high-level research. "I'm excited to show my peers that some serious work on the research front is being accomplished here by both faculty and undergraduate students," he said. "And I promise you that these students will perform in the panel discussions as well as the experts do."

Pegelow Kaplan also pointed to the benefits of promoting research in the humanities. "The expansion of research outside the hard sciences is very beneficial, as it strengthens professors' teaching and provides newfound opportunities for the students who participate."

The result of a sustained collaboration between Davidson College and UNC Charlotte faculty members and supported by these two institutions, the workshop also is made possible by Duke University's Department of Germanic Languages and Literature, Emory University's Laney Graduate School, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill's Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville's Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures, Vanderbilt University's Max Kade Center for European Studies, and Charlotte's Levine-Sklut Judaic Library & Resource Center.

For more information, visit the workshop's website or contact Thomas Pegelow Kaplan at 704-894-2284 or thpegelowkaplan@davidson.edu.