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What a shayna punim!: Cute Jews, Photography, and Jewish Regeneration

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Prof Daniel Magilow

Jüdische Kinder in Erez Israel, a collection of twenty-one photographs of adorable Jewish children in Mandatory Palestine, was the last overtly Jewish-themed photobook published in Germany before the Holocaust. Yet its propaganda mission transcended its diminutive size and surface superficiality. This talk examines how this photobook creates an allegory of Jewish vulnerability by eliciting responses associated with the minor aesthetic category of ‘cuteness.’ In so doing, it broadens our understanding of how photobooks helped expand the visual lexicon and aesthetic strategies central to Jewish cultural and political regeneration.

Daniel H. Magilow is Professor of German at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Co-Editor-in-Chief of Holocaust and Genocide Studies. His research centers on photography and its intersections with Holocaust Studies, Weimar Germany, and postwar memory. He has authored and edited six books, including The Photography of Crisis: The Photo Essays of Weimar Germany and Holocaust Representations in History: An Introduction.

This season’s lecture series seeks to explore the connection of visual narratives in the context of beauty, ugliness and morality with representations of Jews and Jewishness in the Western world from the Middle Ages to the present day. We aim to examine the subject from different historical, social and artistic perspectives ranging from medieval mythology to Orientalism, Zionism, Feminism or modern aesthetics, and through the lens of a selection of diverse media including painting, photography and comics.

The remaining lectures this season will be held at Senate House, Malet St, London WC1E 7HU, and will also be available on Zoom.

Admission is free. Lectures will begin promptly at 6.30pm. Latecomers may not be admitted.

Overview of the 2023 Lecture Series

2023 Lecture Series Flyer (PDF)