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Lawrence Baron, Nasatir Chair in Modern Jewish History and director of the Lipinsky Institute for Judaic Studies at San Diego State University, will present a lecture entitled “Serious Humor: Movie Comedies about the Holocaust” 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1 in Kirby Hall of Civil Rights room 104. The event is free and open to the public.

In the last few decades, a large number of films about the Holocaust have been produced that look at the horrific event in new ways.Baron will examine the recent proliferation of Holocaust comedies as part of a search for figurative genres to convey the significance of the event to generations born after it happened. Film clips will accompany his lecture.

In his book published this year, Projecting the Holocaust into the Present: The Changing Focus on Holocaust Feature Films Since 1990, Baron recognizes that movies reach a wider audience than do eyewitness, historical, or literary accounts. He argues that films mirror changing public perceptions of the Holocaust over time and place. After tracing the evolution of the most commonly employed genres and themes in earlier Holocaust motion pictures, he focuses on how films from the 1990s made the Holocaust relevant for contemporary audiences.

“Baron will look in particular at the seemingly impossible phenomenon of comedy movies that touch upon the Holocaust,” says Robert Cohn, Philip and Muriel Berman Professor of Jewish Studies. “This lecture will be especially relevant for my classes this semester, Jewish Responses to the Holocaust and [First-Year Seminar] Jewish Humor. And insofar as it deals with the ongoing significance of the Holocaust, it will be important for the campus community in general.”

Baron is the author of The Eclectic Anarchism of Erich Mühsam, and he was historian and chapter author of The Altruistic Personality: Rescuers of Jews in Nazi Europe. He has written 11 journal articles and presented 15 conference papers. He is the founder and president of Western Jewish Studies Association and on the board of directors of Association for Jewish Studies. He serves on the editorial boards of Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies and Syracuse University Press’ Religion and the Holocaust Series. He also is on the advisory boards for Passports for Freedom, recognizing diplomats who saved Jews during World War II, and Friends of Le Chambon, recognizing the French village that became a haven for Jews during the war.

He is the recipient of many grants and awards, including a Phi Beta Kappa Excellence in Teaching award, an Ohio State Achievement Award for Educational Radio Documentaries, and the Paul S. Kerr Prize for Best Article Published in New York History in 1983. He received his doctorate in modern European intellectual history from University of Wisconsin at Madison.

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