Alvin H. Rosenfeld Chair
Mirjam Zadoff is a historian of 19th to 21st century Europe, with a growing interest in world history. Her first book "Next Year in Marienbad: The Lost Worlds of Jewish Spa Culture" deals with the question in what way space determines modern Jewish identity. In the first half of the 20th century, spa culture was an essential part of life in Western and Eastern Europe as well as the United States - and especially a part of Jewish life: Bourgeois Jews travelled to fashionable spas, just as proletarian and Chassidic Jews did. Zadoff's book describes the health resorts as stages displaying a growing variety and complexity of Jewish identities, seen through the prisms of sociability, cultural encounter, perception by and of others, body politics and space. This book won the Salo W. Baron Prize from the American Academy of Jewish Research.
Zadoff's second book, published in German in 2014, is a biography of the Trotskyist politician Werner Scholem, the once famous brother of the religious studies scholar Gershom Scholem. Based on a variety of sources and perspectives, the life of Werner Scholem is an exceptional story of success, failure, love, betrayal and persecution. Werner Scholem’s biography reflects an alternative yet central German-Jewish experience in the first half of the twentieth century, and sheds light on the complex but close relationship between ‘Jewish Jews’ and ‘non-Jewish Jews.’
Zadoff's research project "Love Makes the World Go Round: A Cultural History of Jewish Matchmaking" deals with the topic of becoming acquainted and falling in love in the age of migration. The ‘dating project’ derives from her interest in spatial history and the history of migration, literature studies and historical anthropology. It therefore takes a comparative perspective on the various worlds of modern Judaism and other minority and majority cultures.