About the Seminar

Since its inception in 2001, the Duke-UNC Seminar on Jewish Studies has gained a reputation as one of the more acclaimed intellectual meeting grounds in the area, bringing together faculty, graduate students, and visiting scholars who discuss various aspects of Jewish history and culture. Monthly meetings discuss current work by either seminar members or internationally renowned guests, the papers distributed in advance for all to read. Scholars from throughout North Carolina attend, and the seminar has become the major venue for scholarly interaction among the Triangle’s Jewish Studies scholars. Presently coordinated with the UNC public lecture series, the seminar is a pillar of Judaic Studies at Duke and UNC, enriching the scholarly climate in the area and strengthening the various programs in the local universities by offering a stimulating and exciting forum for academic engagement in the study of Judaism.

Upcoming Events

What exactly is “the Holocaust?”

Dan Michman

The next meeting of the 2014-2015 Duke-UNC Jewish Studies Seminar is Monday, October 27. Professor Dan Michman is Head of the International Institute for Holocaust Research and Incumbent of the John Najmann Chair of Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem. He is also Professor of Modern Jewish History and Chair of the Arnold and Leona Finkler Institute of Holocaust Research at Bar-Ilan University.

Professor Michman will lead a discussion on his chapter, “The Jewish Dimension of the Holocaust in Dire Straits? Current Challenges of Interpretation and Scope.”


“The Holocaust” has become a central topic of present-day awareness: chairs and study programs, museums, conferences, memorial events, and more are dedicated to this event; the published output on this topic  – in a broad variety of languages – is enormous. In recent decades the Holocaust has also increasingly been coupled with “genocide”; “Holocaust and genocide studies” in one breath has become a common epithet. The high-profile of the Holocaust as ahistorical event has also raised a heated debate about “uniqueness.”

In this talk the question will be raised: what exactly is “the Holocaust”? My claim is, that in spite of the immense volume of research and teaching, the event has not been fully understood by most of those who are active in the field and by outsiders. I will show some of the problems in the dominant research patterns, as well as the importance of integrating the persepctive of Jewish history as a tool to understand the core of this event. The focus will be on historiographical analysis: definitions, conceptualizations, key characteristics and the history of historiography.

Papers available | JSS-Michman_goda1-ch1 & JSS-Michman_GSA-Core | Click here to download.



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Our Coordinators
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Yaakov Ariel

Professor of Religion, UNC – Chapel Hill
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Malachi Hacohen

Associate Professor and Bass Fellow, History, Political Science and Religion, Duke University


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