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Current Jewish Studies Graduate Students

Doctoral Minor Students

Charles Bonds (History) spent the 2015-2016 academic Year as a Fulbright Student Fellow in Kyiv, Ukraine. There, he conducted research for his dissertation, “Life after Zion: The Repression of Yiddish and the Kyivan Jewish Intelligentsia in the Postwar Era,” which focuses on the fate of Yiddish writers and activists in the postwar Soviet Union, particularly in Soviet Ukraine. He is specializing in Soviet cultural history, focusing on the history of the repression of Jewish and Ukrainian cultural figures. Having found many recently declassified documents in Yiddish, Russian, Ukrainian, and Hebrew, he aims to approach the historiography of Soviet Jewish history through broader streams of Soviet and European History. He works closely with his adviser, Professor Hiroaki Kuromiya and with Professor Dov-Ber Kerler toward this goal. He studied Yiddish in Vilnius, Lithuania at the Vilnius Yiddish Institute during the summer 2016. He returned to IU in August of 2016 to work as an Associate Instructor and to begin writing his dissertation. He has received a a grant-in-aid of research from the Alice Ginott Cohn Ph.D. and Theodore Cohn Fellowship Fund and a Fulbright IIE research fellowship. 

Ramajana Hidic Demirovic’s (History) dissertation, “Performing Tradition in Modern Times: Laura Papo Bohoreta’s Search for Sephardic Woman’s Identity in Interwar Bosnia” is a biography of a well-known Sephardic writer. Ramajana has been awarded several grants for her research and teaching, including the Congressman Frank McCloskey, IREX, ACTR, Mellon, and IU Future Faculty Teaching Fellowships. Her translation of several of Bohoreta’s articles was published in a collection of primary sources entitled Sephardic Reader,edited by Sarah Stein and Julia Cohen, and published by Stanford University Press.

During the past year, Brian Hillman (Religious Studies) presented on the 19th century thinker Nachman Krochmal at the AAR annual meeting: on American and Jewish exceptionalism for Rabbis Kaufman Kohler and Solomon Schechter at the annual JSGA conference; and on messianism and Zionism for Rabbis Zvi Yehudah Kook and Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum at the annual meeting of the Midwest Region of the AAR. After studying Modern Hebrew at Middlebury College in summer 2016, he returned to Middlebury this past summer to attend their newly created program in Classical Hebrew. During the 2016-2017 year, he studied Aramaic. He will begin work on his dissertation on “Mithnagdic Thought after Rabbi Elijah, the Gaon of Vilna” during the year, his fourth year at IU.

Roy Holler is a fourth year Ph.D. candidate in (Comparative Literature), with a minor in Jewish Studies. Originally from Tel Aviv, Roy worked as a reporter for the IDF radio before moving to New York City where he continued to write a weekly personal column for Yediot Ahronot. Roy is interested in representations of trauma and revenge in Israeli and African-American literature, focusing on post-Holocaust and post-Slavery fiction.
Mitsuko Kawabata’s (Ethnomusicology) research interest is Jewish youth culture in Argentina. Following dissertation fieldwork in Buenos Aires in 2012 and 2013, she is currently in Japan working on her dissertation on this topic.

Avi Lang (Comparative Literature) is researching the Tsene Urene, the seventeenth-century “Women’s Bible,” a compilation of traditional tanakhic, midrashic, and homiletic material in Yiddish. One of the most popular books ever written in Yiddish, in some Hasidic communities, it is still given as a gift to women on the occasion of their marriage. He is interested in the Tsene Urene’s place in the history of Yiddish literature: how the text represents a bridge between the genres of epic poetry and narrative prose in Yiddish, and analyzing it in the context of European vernacular Bible translation. While not necessarily a translation in the traditional sense, the Tsene Urene nevertheless constitutes a serious effort to transmit sacred knowledge through the Jewish demotic. Professor Dov Ber Kerler is Avi Lang’s dissertation director.

Yehuda Magid (Political Science) successfully defended his dissertation proposal in spring 2016. Under the tutelage of Professor Karen Rasler, he is conducting research for his dissertation examines mechanisms of violence within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In March 2016, with generous financial assistance from the Borns JSP and the Department of Political Science, he presented “Ethnic Triads in Hegemonic States: The Effects of State-Dissident Interactions on Dominant Group Violence” and "Introducing the African Pro-government Militias (PGM) Dataset" at the International Studies Association convention in Atlanta. In the Summer 2016, with generous support from the Borns JSP grants-in-aid of research, Yehuda conducted original fieldwork in the West Bank, including extensive interviews with Jews living in Israeli settlements and outposts throughout the region. 

Allison Posner (Comparative Literature) received a Dissertation Research Fellowship from the College of Arts and Sciences for 2017-2-18. Her dissertation, “The Missing Image in Holocaust Testimony and Literature” focuses on the difficulty of, and resistance to, “working through” in the Holocaust narratives of Elie Wiesel, Primo Levi, Jean Amery, and W.G. Sebald. Last spring, she taught "Coming to America," a course that explored Jewish identity and the struggles of assimilation through 20th century Yiddish, Hebrew, and English language literature and she taught Yiddish language in fall 2016.

Lindsey Pullum-Foulks (Anthropology) completed her coursework and passed her qualifying exams in April. Her research analyzes the discursive practices of belonging among Druze in Israel. She conducted research for her dissertation this past summer with support from a Borns Family Fellowship grant-in-aid. She presented several academic papers: at the Midwest Popular Culture Association, American Anthropological Association, IU/Purdue University JS Graduate Workshop, JSGSA conference, and the Anthropology Graduate Student Association conference. Lindsey says of her fellow JS graduate students: “We’ve all found a home in the JSP.”

In fall 2016, Julia Riegel (History) completed a Sosland Fellowship at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. Riegel returned to Bloomington last spring to begin writing her dissertation. In summer 2017, thanks to a Sara and Albert Reuben Fellowship to Support the Study of the Holocaust grant-in-aid, Riegel completed final archival research for her dissertation in the YIVO Archives in NYC. This year, she is working as an Editorial Assistant at the American Historical Review while writing her dissertation on musical life in the Warsaw Ghetto. 

Meghan Riley (History) is looking forward to having a great adventure during her dissertation research in France this year, supported by a Fulbright Fellowship. Her research will also be supported by the Saul Kagan Fellowship in Advanced Shoah Studies from the Claims Conference. Meghan will be researching the role of international humanitarian organizations, such as the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the American Red Cross, in French internment and concentration camps during World War II. This fall in Paris, she is working in the National Archives and the Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation. Riley will then work in archives in the southwest of France that were sites of major internment camps.

Over the past year, in addition to co-organizing a successful JSGSA conference, Sean Sidky (Comparative Literature and Religious Studies) has presented papers at a number of regional and graduate conferences. In March, he received a year-long Translation Fellowship from the Yiddish Book Center to translate a book of short stories from Yiddish author Alexander Spiegelblatt. Sean will be reading excerpts from his translation as part of a panel at this year’s American Literary Translator's Conference in October.

In April, at the University of Toronto, Dale Spicer (Religious Studies) delivered a paper addressing some of the theoretical challenges that scholars face in the study of premodern religious attitudes towards disability. He plans to further explore concepts of health, illness, and physical difference in religious texts during his dissertation research.

Nicolette van den Bogerd (Musicology) is a second-year PhD student at the Jacobs School of Music, and is currently working towards docotral minors in Jewish Studies and Ethnomusicology.  She earned her MA in Musicology, MM in Violin Performance and BM in Violin Performance from California State University Long Beach.  Nicolette’s research interest focus on Jewish music, particularly Jewish musical identity in 19th and 20th century Europe, Polish Jewish émigré composers in France, Holocaust music, the intersection of music and politics, and Jewish composers of American Musical Theater.   She has presented her work at conferences in the United States, and she has given an invited guest lecture at the University of Southern California.  Most recently, Nicolette delivered pre-concert lectures for opera productions at the Jacobs School of Music. 

Juliane Wuensch (Germanic Studies) completed her course work and qualifying exams and is now writing her dissertation entitled "German-Jewish Female Identity and the Dream of an Egalitarian Society: A Comparative Study of Rahel Varnhagen, Rosa Luxemburg, and Hannah Arendt." She works as an AI for the Germanic Studies Department.

M.A. students

This summer, David Axelrod interned at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. A third year dual JS and History M.A. student, his primary interest is in Soviet policy toward Jews during the Stalin era.

Adah Hetko completed the first year of her master's degree, and is making plans for her thesis project which will focus on the American klezmer and Yiddish song revival. Supported by an Alice Ginott Cohn, Ph.D. and Theodore Cohn grant-in-aid, this past summer, she began her thesis research at Yiddish-Vokh, a Yiddish-only retreat in Copake, NY, and she studied Intermediate Yiddish with the Steiner Program at the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA. In Spring 2017, Adah delivered a paper at the JSGSA conference, entitled “Nostalgia in an Audio/Visual Performance of ‘Mayn Shtetele Belz.’”  She is the 2017 recipient of the George and Monique Stolnitz Yiddish Prize.

Steven Kaplin is a second year JS M.A. student. His research focuses on Jewish mysticism, particularly Hasidism.

Morgan Morales, who is pursuing the M.A. in both JS and History, spent her first year at IU studying Yiddish language and developing papers that critically examine German intellectuals and analyze the Israeli state in its earliest years. Her thesis will focus on German Jewish families during the Third Reich.

Jordan Sommers is beginning his second year of study toward the completion of two master's degrees in JS and Russian/East European History. In addition to a Title VIII Fellowship for study of the Ukrainian language at IU in summer 2017, he was awarded a FLAS Fellowship for the 2017-18 academic year to continue his study of Ukrainian. With support from a Sara and Albert Reuben Fellowship for Study of the Holocaust grant-in-aid, he spent May 2017 in Ukraine, collecting archival materials in Kiev, Vinnytsia, and Rivne. These documents have formed the basis of a research paper concerning the Holocaust in Vinnytsia, which he hopes to submit for publication this year. Jordan looks forward to continuing his study of Yiddish and additional research projects during the coming academic year.

Claire Woodward is currently in her first year of a combined Masters/PhD program in Germanic Studies. Her interests lie in 20th century German cultural studies including nationalism, identity, and the creation of "the Other," as well as Yiddish.