Skip to main content

Carolyn J. Dean: The Making of the Exemplary Holocaust Witness: A Pre-History

Carolyn J. Dean
Monday, July 10, 2023, 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

As part of the

CEU Summer University Holocaust Testimonies and Their Afterlives Public Lecture Series (July 10 –17, 2023 2023)


Carolyn J. Dean (Yale University)

The Making of the Exemplary Holocaust Witness: A Pre-History

July 10, 4 pm Quantum Room (N 15 /101)

Carolyn J. Dean is Charles J. Stille Professor of History and French. She is a historian of modern Europe with a focus on the twentieth century whose work explores the intersection of ideas and culture, most recently in the context of genocide.

Her latest book, The Moral Witness: Trials and Testimony after Genocide (Cornell, forthcoming 2019) traces the history of the witness to genocide, tracking the changing representation of violence over the last hundred years and demonstrating how the cultural meaning of genocide was distinguished from war and imperial conquest.

She is the author of five other books that focus on the historical and cultural representation of victims, most recently Aversion and Erasure: The Fate of the Victim after the Holocaust (Cornell, 2010) and The Fragility of Empathy after the Holocaust (Cornell, 2004).

This talk discusses two interwar trials of Armenian and Jewish avengers of murder, the first in Berlin in 1921 and the other in Paris in 1926. It does so to ask about the longer cultural history of how publics imagined genocide as an incomparable radical moral transgression, one now embodied by the experience of Holocaust survivors. It also reflects on how our image of the genocide victim has changed.