When historians of the United States talk about antisemitism, more often than not they do so as proof of American exceptionalism: in its inexorable movement toward the margins of American life, antisemitism exemplifies what is unique and extraordinary about America. Antisemitism’s present absence from historical narratives of the United States has been essential to the exceptionalism and progressive claims of American history, American Jewish history, and much of American communal life. This seminar explores how we might resuscitate the study of antisemitism in the United States from its lifeless instrumentality and, instead, approach it as entangled with histories of power, exclusion, and hierarchy—and how, in the process, our epistemologies of American liberal democracy would demand revision.


Lila Corwin Berman (Temple University)

About the Speaker: Lila Corwin Berman is Professor of History at Temple University, where she holds the Murray Friedman Chair of American Jewish History and directs the Feinstein Center for American Jewish History. She is author of Speaking of Jews: Rabbis, Intellectuals, and the Creation of an American Public Identity (California, 2009) and Metropolitan Jews: Politics, Race, and Religion in Postwar Detroit (Chicago, 2015), and she is currently writing a book called The American Jewish Philanthropic Complex: The Historical Formation of a Multi-Billion Dollar Institution. Her articles have appeared in many publications, including the American Historical Review, Journal of American History, Jewish Social Studies, American Jewish History, Religion and American Culture, the Forward, and Sh’ma.

Etta and Milton Leve Scholar-in-Residence Seminar

Sponsored by the
UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies