Curating Memories, Mapping Families | Celia Applegate on the Mendelssohns

The Working Group on Mapping Diasporas (a project of the Townsend Center Working Group on Modern Jewish Culture) is delighted to co-sponsor a talk by Professor Celia Applegate (Vanderbilt University).

Family Ties: How the Mendelssohns Understood Their Own History

Presented in the context of The Mendelssohn Project
Monday March 14, 2016 5 to 7 PM


In 1879, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s son Sebastian published “Die Familie Mendelssohn 1729-1847” as the “chronicle of a good German Bürger Family.” It carried an epigram from Goethe’s Iphigenie as its frontispiece, on the joy of recounting the deeds of one’s fathers. This lecture will work backwards in time from this 1879 family chronicle, using letters and other writings of members of the Mendelssohn family to illuminate their emerging self-understanding as a German-Jewish family.

Celia Applegate, William R. Kenan, Jr. Chair of History at Vanderbilt University,  studies the culture, society, and politics of modern Germany, with particular interest in the history of music, nationalism and national identity. She is the author of A Nation of Provincials: The German Idea of Heimat (Berkeley, 1990), the co-editor (with musicologist Pamela Potter) ofMusic and German National Identity (Chicago, 2000), and the author of Bach in Berlin: Nation and Culture in Mendelssohn’s Revival of the St. Matthew Passion (Cornell, 2005), winner of the DAAD/GSA Book Prize. She is currently working on comprehensive interpretation of musical life in Germany from the 17th century to the present, titled Music and the Germans: A History. She is past President of the German Studies Association and Vice President of the Central European History Society.

More here.


Curating Memory, Mapping Families | Upcoming Working Group Meeting

The working group on mapping diasporas is resuming its monthly meetings for the Spring Semester. Meetings involve the exploration of theoretical issues, collaborative collection research  (based on the holdings of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life), and the critical examination of digital tools and platforms.

The first meeting of the semester will include:

  1. Curating Memory: Theoretical Approaches to Diasporic Culture, led by Cindy Nguyen, PhD candidate in History at UC Berkeley
  2. Research on ketubbot (Jewish marriage contracts) in The Magnes Collection: these manuscripts, which are often painted or otherwise decorated, include a unique form of geolocation, intersecting toponyms and references to bodies of water (rivers, seas, oceans).
  3. A close look at Footprints (also on Facebook): an online platform created to trace “the history and movement of Jewish books since the inception of print.”

Looking forward to the engaging discussions!

Curating Memories, Mapping Families | Adrian Daub Talks about the Mendelssohns

The Working Group on Mapping Diasporas (a project of the Townsend Center Working Group on Modern Jewish Culture) is delighted to co-sponsor a talk by Professor Adrian Daub (Stanford University).

The Mendelssohns, The Piano, and the Making of the Domestic Sphere

Presented in the context of The Mendelssohn Project
Wednesday February 17, 2016 5 to 7 PM
Thanks to its prominence, its wealth and its place at the center of intellectual and cultural life, the Mendelssohn family provides a privileged window into the formation of domestic culture in nineteenth century Germany. But the story of the Mendelssohns not only reflects changes in domestic culture and the understanding of privacy, the family helped inaugurate and shape them – often by musical means. This talk will examine questions of privacy and publicity from Moses Mendelssohn’s writings on musical aesthetics, to the music created by his famous grandchildren Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy and Fanny Mendelssohn (later Hensel).


Adrian Daub is Associate Professor of German Studies at Stanford University. He is the author of Uncivil Unions: The Metaphysics of Marriage in German Idealism and Romanticism (2012), Tristan’s Shadow: Sexuality and the Total Work of Art (2013), and Four-Handed Monsters: Four-Hand Piano Playing and Nineteenth-Century Culture (2014). He has also published on fin-de-siècle German opera, the films of Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, literature and scandal, nineteenth-century ballads, and writers such as Novalis, Stefan George, Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and W. G. Sebald.

More here.

Mapping California with Yiddish Books. An Undergraduate Digital Humanities Project at The Magnes

JWeekly just published an article about a fascinating Digital Humanities project developed at The Magnes with an undergraduate student, Erin Faigin (in the context of the Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program, directed by Francesco Spagnolo). 

The projects brings together Yiddish books, bibliographical tools, history (including “hyper-local” history), metadata, and of course maps, including the platform, Findery

Erin Faigin recently gave a wonderful public talk in the context of the Magnes’ PopUp Exhibition Series, illustrating the project.

Read more here… 

Carla Shapreau awarded Palisca Award for the digital edition of looted music manuscript

Carla Shapreau, a faculty member at Berkeley Law whose research involves the Nazi-era plunder of musical cultural property and the restitution of those possessions, a senior fellow in the Institute of European Studies and a curator at the Department of Music, as well as a member of the Working Group on Mapping Diasporas, is the recipient with two co-authors of this year’s Claude V. Palisca Award of the American Musicological Society announced this week.

The award recognizes outstanding scholarly editions or translations in the field of musicology published during the previous year. Shapreau received for the Ferrell-Vogüé Machaut Manuscript, published by the University of Oxford’s Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music, reconstructs the long history of the manuscript, a rare work by Guillaume de Machaut, a medieval French poet and scholar.

The manuscript was confiscated by the Nazis from its owner, Georges Wildenstein, in Paris on Oct. 30, 1940, and shipped to Germany. Later, it was taken to the German countryside for safekeeping. In the summer of 1945, the U.S. Army discovered this 14th century musical, literary and artistic work hidden in a Bavarian monastery, and in 1949 it was returned to its true owner.

Read more about this here and here.

Working Group on Mapping Diasporas (2015-2016)

During the Academic Year 2015-2016, the planning for Mapping Diasporas includes the work of a multi-disciplinary Working Group. Its participants hold monthly meetings, held at The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, UC Berkeley, to discuss individual projects and mapping platforms.

In the course of each session, working group participants conduct “hands-on” (but with gloves…) research on select collection items that presents pertinent research questions relating to the topics of diaspora, cultural mobility, multi-locational relations, provenance, and geolocation, and explore a variety of platforms that allow online “mapping” and engage in a wide-ranging set of conversations about cultural objects.

Working Group Participants

Angela Marino (Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies)

Ray Lifchez (Environmental Design) 

Cindy Nguyen (History)

Carla Shapreau (Law,  & Music)

Andrea Sinn (History & German)

Greg Niemeyer (BCNM & Art Practice)

Yosef Rosen (Jewish Studies)

John Fox (Memory Miner, Findery, & Netflix)

Francesco Spagnolo (The Magnes, Music, & Performance Studies)

Robyn Perry (iSchool, Center for Technology, Society & Policy)

Sam Ball, Citizen Film

Tomasz Koncewicz, University of Gdansk

Zach Bleemer, Economics

Claudia von Vacano, Digital Humanities at Berkeley

Jon Voss, Historypin