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Lecture: ‘Coming Out’ as Jewish in Weimar Germany

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German Historical Institute London

17 Bloomsbury Square

London

WC1A 2NJ

United Kingdom

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Lecture by Kerry Wallach as part of the Leo Baeck Institute London Lecture Series, 2019-20 'Acting Jewish - Between Identity and Attire'.

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LEO BAECK INSTITUTE LONDON LECTURE SERIES, 2019-20

A lecture series organised by the Leo Baeck Institute London in cooperation with the German Historical Institute London.

The proposed lecture series investigates the complex nature of what it means to act or appear Jewish and for whom this appearance is important. Examples are drawn from a wide range of performative settings: on stage, on screen, in daily life. Under which conditions do certain elements of fashion and attire appear as “Jewish”? How do Jews consciously showcase or hide their identity by way of ‘acting’ and dressing in certain ways? And how were these elements conceptualised in the wider discourse: as ‘natural’- self-expressions of an ethnical identity, as attire communicating a social role, or ‘prejudiced’ – as a ’costume’ hiding the wearer’s true identity?

‘Coming Out’ as Jewish in Weimar Germany

Prof Kerry Wallach (Gettysburg College, USA)

In the 1920s and early 1930s – as today – Jews in Germany were concerned about growing anti-Semitism, and many took precautions to conceal their Jewishness by dressing and behaving in certain ‘assimilated’ ways. Yet there were still occasions when it was beneficial to be openly Jewish. This lecture explores the tensions that came with being visible as a Jew – an identity play that often involved appearing simultaneously non-Jewish and Jewish. Drawing on a wide range of images and films, this presentation explores controversial aspects of German Jewish visibility and invisibility, as well as the complex reasons why Jews chose to appear distinctly ‘Jewish’.

Kerry Wallach is Associate Professor and Chair of German Studies and an Affiliate of the Judaic Studies Program at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. She is the author of Passing Illusions: Jewish Visibility in Weimar Germany (2017) and a number of articles on German-Jewish literature, history, film, and visual and consumer culture. She serves as co-editor for the German Jewish Cultures book series published by Indiana University Press and sponsored by the Leo Baeck Institute London.

For more information please refer to the leaflet here.

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German Historical Institute London

17 Bloomsbury Square

London

WC1A 2NJ

United Kingdom

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