Simon Dubnow Institute
for Jewish History and Culture at Leipzig University

Courses at the Dubnow Institute, Winter Semester 2020/21

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Please note the current information from the Leipzig University.

Courses at the Dubnow Institute

MA in History, Specialization Module 03-HIS-0410 »European History of the Jews«

This module includes two seminars, which can be chosen from three options; altogether 4 semester periods per week. These sessions make up the module »European History of the Jews« (03-HIS-0410) in the course Master of Arts in Medieval and Modern History at the Historical Seminar. The module includes two seminars which can be combined from the available options; altogether 4 semester periods per week. The lectures are open to students on the MA course in European Studies at the Institute for Cultural Studies, to students of Book Science, and – upon consultation – to students at the Faculty of Law at Leipzig University. The lectures are moreover open to students on the MA course in the History and Politics of the Twentieth Century at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena.


History and Memory: A (Re-)Reading of a Classic of Jewish Historiography


Lecturers: Dr. Elisabeth Gallas/Dr. Enrico Lucca


Time: Tuesday, 11.15 a.m.–12.45 p.m. (2 SWS)

Teaching method: digital event with presence elements

Venue: Dubnow Institute, Goldschmidtstr. 28, Leipzig

First session: 27.10.2020


Description: This seminar, which is designed as a reading course, will focus on two fundamental positions in recent Jewish historiography: the essay »Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory« by the American historian Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi (1932–2009), first published in 1982, and the text »The Stakes of History: On the Use and Abuse of Jewish History for Life« by David N. Myers, Professor at the University of California, which he composed in 2018 as a contemporary response to Yerushalmi’s essay.

Yerushalmi’s essay today holds the status of a classic of Jewish historiography and is of central importance for engagements with the relationship between historiography and collective memory. It centers on the question of the extent to which notions of history and historiography influenced traditional memorial practices and collective memory and how these in turn shaped historiography. A generation later, Myers took his reading of »Zakhor« as a starting point to reevaluate the meaning and function of Jewish historiography and the role of the historian today. The two essays will be read and discussed together in the seminar. A gradual approach to their respective positions is intended to enable a familiarization on the one hand with the key elements of Jewish historical thought and on the other with the genre of historiographical debate and the notion of locating various positions in works of historical reconstruction.


Literature: Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, Zachor: Erinnere Dich! Jüdische Geschichte und jüdisches Gedächtnis, aus dem Amerik. von Wolfgang Heuss, Berlin 1988; David N. Myers, The Stakes of History: On the Use and Abuse of Jewish History for Life, New Haven/London 2018.


Seminar texts are provided in the form of a reader.

The number of participants is limited to 20.

Participation requires the ability to read English texts and to give a presentation.


The Great Patriotic Perspective: Jewish Experiences in Soviet World War Cinema, 1941–1991


Lecturer: PD Dr. Jan Gerber


Time: Thursday, 11.15 a.m.–12.45 p.m. (2 SWS)

Teaching method: digital event with presence elements

Venue: Dubnow Institute, Goldschmidtstr. 28, Leipzig

First Session: 29.10.2020



Description: In the Soviet Union, World War II was regarded as the »Great Patriotic War«. The Soviet civilian population was regarded as the central victim of almost unprecedented atrocities committed by the German occupiers. The specificity of the Jewish experience was hardly mentioned in this context, a fact which also shaped cinematographic engagements with the war.

Nevertheless, the Jewish experience occasionally broke through in representations – either due to the monstrosity of the crimes or through the intervention of Jewish directors and screenplay writers. This seminar will investigate the traces of Jewish presence in Soviet world war cinema over the course of fifty years, from 1941 to 1991. To this end, the transformations in Soviet policies with regard to nationality will be juxtaposed with the history of Holocaust memory and Soviet cinema history.


The seminar will take place in a mixed format of online and in-person classes, in which the films will be watched and discussed together. For this reason, the number of participants is limited to twelve. The classes will take place fortnightly: the classes on 29.10., 12.11.2020, and 4.2.2021 will take place online (11.15-12.45), while the remaining classes on 26.11., 10.12.2020, 7.1., and 21.1.2021 will take place in person at the Dubnow Institute as double units (11.00-15.00).


Literature: A literature reference is given in the first session.


Exhibiting: Citizenship


Lecturers: Prof. Dr. Raphael Gross, Prof. Dr. Werner Konitzer

Block seminar

Teaching method: digital event with presence elements

Venue: Dubnow Institute, Goldschmidtstr. 28, Leipzig

First Session: 27.11.2020

Dates of the block event: 8.1. (11.15–12.45), 14.1. (15.15–16.45), 15.1. (11.15–12.45), 21.1. (15.15–16.45) and 22.1.2021 (11.15–12.45)



Description: Citizenship as the dominant form of political belonging, as a concept for the combination of special rights and duties such as the right to vote and military service, pension privileges and tax duties, emerged with the formation of the modern nation state in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This is also the history of bureaucratic practices, of passports, stamps, laws, and decrees, of the generation and limitation of migration, of genuine belonging and expectations of belonging, of exclusionary practices, denaturalization, the revocation of citizenship and the retraction of passports. The very experience of such practices of inclusion and exclusion, of emancipation and judicial equalization through to the loss of all rights, is an elementary part of the Jewish experience of modernity.

The German Historical Museum is planning an exhibition on the history of citizenship in Europe. This seminar will examine the aspects outlined above with particular attention to the specificity of Jewish experiences in various European countries on the basis of a few prominent examples. The question of how this historical experience can be presented in an exhibition in an appropriate and illuminating form will be of central importance here.


The course will take place as a block on 8.1. (11.15-12.45), 14.1. (15.15-16.45), 15.1. (11.15-12.45), 21.1. (15.15-16.45), and 22.1.2021 (11.15-12.45). A precondition for participation is the willingness to prepare a short presentation. Topics will be assigned in an introductory meeting on 27.11.2020 (11.15-12.45).


The number of participants is limited to 25. Participation requires the ability to read English texts and to give a presentation. Topics will be given in an introductory session on 27.11.2020 (11.15-12.45).


Literature: Dieter Gosewinkel, Schutz und Freiheit? Staatsbürgerschaft in Europa im 20. und 21. Jahrhundert, Berlin 2016.



Registration: see central date of the History Seminar

Preliminary examination performance: presentation

Examination paper: Term paper



Fundamental Issues in Jewish and General Modern History


»Let My People Go!«

Jewish Emigration from Eastern Europe since the 1960s


Lecturers: Prof. Dr. Jörg Deventer/Dr. Angelique Leszczawski-Schwerk


Time: Thursday, 5.15–6.15 p.m. (every other week)

Teaching method: digital

First session: 12.11.2020


Description: This lecture series takes the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the Dubnow Institute as an opportunity to examine Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe between the 1960s and 1990s in order to highlight the effects and repercussions these waves of migration exerted on Jewish studies, especially in the United States, Israel, and Federal Republic of Germany.

The focus of these broadly contextualizing lectures is on migration processes from an interdisciplinary perspective. Of central interest here is the experience of migration as well as the different disciplinary specializations of the scholars (political science, sociology, history, material culture, literature) in question. The aim of the lecture series is to discern the relationship between knowledge and migration in the respective countries.


The bilingual (German/English) event will be held digitally. Please register in advance so that you can receive a link to the digital meeting room. Information on registration, speakers, topics and dates can be found here.

No participant limitation


Registration: see central registration date of the History Seminar

Examination performance: Project work