Fractured Paradigms: Rethinking the Study of American Jews

2018 Biennial Scholars’ Conference on American Jewish History

National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia, PA, June 17-19, 2018

The Academic Council of the American Jewish Historical Society, in conjunction with the American Jewish Archives, American Jewish Historical Society, and the National Museum of American Jewish History, invites proposals via email toAJHSBiennial2018@gmail.com by November 1, 2017. Details at ajhsacademiccouncil.org.

The 2018 Biennial Scholars’ Conference on American Jewish History offers an occasion to reflect on the state of our field. Which narratives, temporal frameworks, and spatial boundaries serve as its controlling paradigms? How and why have these paradigms experienced fracture, disruption, or revision? And, finally, which paradigms deserve to be abandoned? We seek nothing less than a critical rethinking of our field. We invite scholars to enter into debate as they engage in meaningful and respectful ways with the terms of the field of American Jewish Studies and the new paradigms that might guide it into its next several decades. In these efforts, we particularly seek contributions from scholars engaged in transnational research and those who study non-American Jewish communities, as well as scholars working in a variety of disciplines.

Our own moment, which has seen the rise of antisemitism in the United States, the fracturing of American Jewish support for Israel, and new attention to the diversity of Jewish practices and peoples at home and abroad, compels us to reconsider many of the basic concepts that have guided the study of American Jewish history, religion, politics, and culture. As fields of study mature, they often grow beyond the models and paradigms that once defined them. Over the past four decades, the methods, questions, and sources guiding the study of American Jews have changed vastly, even as many of the central narratives about American Jews and their history have shifted only gradually.

The Scholars Conference Committee will gladly consider proposals exploring any aspect of American Jewish history. The Committee encourages the submission of complete panels and nontraditional types of panels, including seminars, roundtables, and lightning sessions. It will also consider individual paper submissions. In all cases, the Committee urges contributors to approach the conference as an opportunity to share ideas through interactive conversation and accessible presentations, preferably without directly reading full papers. International scholars, graduate students, and scholars with limited financial resources are all encouraged to apply. Once acceptance decisions are made, a limited number of travel grants will be made available.

Submission instructions:

• Paper abstract (250 words)

• For panels or other organized sessions, short description (150 words), with individual abstracts attached for formal panels.

• Brief bio (120 words), including email address and phone number.

• Indication of technological needs.

Email proposals to AJHSBiennial2018@gmail.com by November 1, 2017.

The Academic Council gratefully acknowledges support from the American Jewish Historical Society; Knapp Family Foundation; The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives; National Museum of American Jewish History; Temple University’s Feinstein Center for American Jewish History; and University of Pennsylvania’s History Department, Jewish Studies Program, Program for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society, and School of Arts and Sciences.