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Paul J. Schrag Lecture with Marc Volovici (Univ. of Haifa): “Jewish Nationalism and the Quest to Turn German into a Foreign Language”

April 19 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

The UW-Madison Department of History & the Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies presents:

The 2023 Paul J. Schrag Lecture

“Jewish Nationalism and the Quest to Turn German into a Foreign Language”
Marc Volovici (University of Haifa)

Wednesday, April 19
Pyle Center
702 Langdon St (Madison, WI)

This lecture will also be livestreamed via Zoom for anyone unable to attend in person. To receive the Zoom information, please register in advance via the following link:

In the 19th century, German was associated with Jewish religious reform and served as a language of Jewish political and intellectual exchange across the diaspora, leading various writers and scholars to consider German as a Jewish language. With the emergence of Jewish nationalism, Central European Jews confronted the question of how to define their relation to Hebrew and Yiddish, and, as a consequence, to German. This lecture will present several strategies Central European Jews employed amid the growing political pressure to address their national and linguistic loyalties. The effort of Central European Jews to probe their practical and emotional dependence on German brought to the surface the question of what makes a Jewish language Jewish. Indeed, the effort to turn German into a foreign language in Jewish life revealed the rootedness of modern Jewish politics and culture in German, allowing us to critically examine some of the assumptions underlying the relation between language and modern nationhood.

Marc Volovici received his BA and MA degrees from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a PhD from Princeton University’s Department of History. He is the author of German as a Jewish Problem: The Language Politics of Jewish Nationalism (Stanford University Press, 2020), which traces the Jewish history of the German language from the late nineteenth century to the aftermath of the Holocaust, using it as a prism for understanding the historical, religious, and ideological tensions embedded in Jewish nationalism. Marc is also the co-editor of Antisemitism, Islamophobia and the Politics of Definition (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming, 2023). He served as an academic advisor and co-edited the catalogue for the exhibition Jews, Money, Myth, which was staged at the Jewish Museum London in 2019. Before joining the University of Haifa, he served as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Birkbeck Institute for the Study of Antisemitism and the Department of History at Birkbeck, University of London. His research has also been supported by the Center for Jewish History, the Israel Institute, and the Jena Center 20th Century History at the Friedrich Schiller University, Jena.

For a downloadable PDF of this poster, click here




April 19
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm


Pyle Center
702 Langdon St.
Madison, WI 53706 United States
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(608) 262-1122