CANCELLED Journeys in German-Jewish Studies. Negative Symbiosis, or a more optimistic view? | The Arizona Center for Judaic Studies

CANCELLED Journeys in German-Jewish Studies. Negative Symbiosis, or a more optimistic view?


Wed, 03/18/2020 - 16:00 to 17:00

This talk is Cancelled and will be rescheduled in the Fall


The Sally & Ralph Duchin Campus Lecture Series

Dr. Thomas Kovach, Professor
Department of German Studies
Affiliated Faculty Member, The Arizona Center for Judaic Studies & Religious Studies

Journeys in German-Jewish Studies. Negative Symbiosis, or a more optimistic view?

Prof. Kovach will offer reflections on his own journey, as the child of Jewish emigres from Europe in 1939 who both were steeped in German culture, and on the larger question as to how to reconcile the contradictory facts that for over 150 years Jews were more invested in German culture than in any other world culture, but that it was this culture that brought about the most horrendous event in Jewish history. He will describe how In his teaching, he has explored two different paths in German-Jewish studies. First, an examination of the writings of Jews in German, including giants of German-language literature such as Heinrich Heine and Franz Kafka, and including writers of the post-Shoah era as evidence that Jewish life in the German land has indeed re-emerged. Then, an examination of how Jews, Judaism, and Jewishness have been depicted in German culture through the ages — needless to say, this includes a number of antisemitic texts, but also Germans such as the Enlightenment writer Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, who saw it as one of their missions to combat anti-Jewish prejudice among their fellow Germans.

Dr. Thomas Kovach came to The University of Arizona in the fall of 1994 to head the Department of German Studies. He was formerly Chair of the Department of German and Russian at the University of Alabama, and before that he had an appointment in German and Comparative Literature in the Department of Languages and Literature of the University of Utah. He received his B.A. in German Literature from Columbia University, and his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature with a German emphasis from Princeton University. His research interests range widely over German and Comparative Literature from the mid-eighteenth through the early twentieth centuries.

In addition to courses on German-Jewish Writers and Jews in German culture, in recent years he has taught courses that reflect on the question of how Germans have dealt with the legacy of the Nazi past. Related to this, his most recent book is a volume on the controversial contemporary German writer Martin Walser, The Burden of the Past; Martin Walser on Modern German Identity, in which he provides translations and commentaries on several speeches and essays by Walser that cast light on the complexities of German legacies of guilt.