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News Release

March 30, 2004

April 1 Talk at Smith Examines American Encounters
With the Holocaust in '60s Media Popular Culture

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -- Smith College will host a talk by Jeffrey Shandler, scholar of modern Jewish culture and assistant professor of Jewish studies at Rutgers University, at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 1 in Seelye Hall 106. The event is free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible.

Shandler's talk, "Aliens in the Wasteland: American Encounters with the Holocaust on '60s Science Fiction Television Series," will address the ways in which mediations have provided most Americans with their primary encounter with the Holocaust; films and television programs, in particular, have played a strategic role in defining the Holocaust as an important moral paradigm in American public culture.

By examining episodes of two science fiction series of the 1960s -- "The Twilight Zone" and the original "Star Trek" -- Shandler will consider the distinctive ways television has shaped Americans' understanding of the Holocaust These two programs, which offer highly imaginative retellings of the Holocaust in otherworldly settings, demonstrate how television has facilitated an American conceptualization of the Holocaust as a morally galvanizing event of universal significance. They also provide compelling examples of how the medium makes use of key images and themes associated with the Holocaust to create fictional retellings of this chapter of history in ways that link its significance to the ethical concerns of contemporary American life.

Shandler holds a doctorate in Yiddish Studies from Columbia University and has been a Dorot Teaching Fellow in the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University, as well as a post-doctoral fellow at the Annenberg School for Communication and the Center for Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania. In addition, Shandler has taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Tel Aviv University and Vassar College.

Shandler has written and lectured widely on modern Yiddish culture; American responses to the Holocaust; and the role that broadcasting, film, photography and other media play in modern Jewish life. He is the author of "While America Watches: Televising the Holocaust," awarded the 1999-2000 Saul Viener Prize by the American Jewish Historical Society as the work that made the most significant contribution to the field of American Jewish history.

He is the editor of "Awakening Lives: Autobiographies of Jewish Youth in Poland before the Holocaust" (Yale University Press, 2002), which was a Dorot Jewish Book Award finalist. Shandler's other publications include "Entertaining America: Jews, Movies, and Broadcasting" (Princeton University Press, 2003; co-author/co-editor with J. Hoberman), "Remembering the Lower East Side: American Jewish Reflections" (Indiana University Press, 2000; co-editor, with Hasia Diner and Beth S. Wenger) and "Profiles of a Lost World: Memoirs of East European Jewish Life before World War II by Hirsz Abramowicz" (Wayne State University Press, 1999; co-editor, with Dina Abramowicz). His translations of Yiddish literature include Mani-Leyb's children's classic "Yingl-Tsingl-Khvat" (Moyer Bell, 1986) and have been aired on National Public Radio and published in The Forward.

Shandler has curated exhibitions for The Jewish Museum in New York ("Entertaining America: Jews, Movies and Broadcasting," 2003), the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia ("Holy Land: American Encounters with the Land of Israel in the Century before Statehood," 1998), and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research ("Sholem Aleichem in America," 1990). Currently Shandler is completing a study of Yiddish culture after World War II. During the 2003-2004 academic year he is a visiting scholar at the Center for Media and Religion at New York University.

Shandler's talk is sponsored by the Lucius N. Littauer Fund in Jewish Studies, the Film Studies Program and the Lecture Committee.


Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Marti Hobbes
News Assistant
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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