Monika Rice

I study: “I study the history of Jews in Poland and Eastern Europe as well as Jewish-Polish and Jewish-Christian relations. My focus is on the postwar experiences of Jews in Poland and Holocaust survivors, as well as Poland’s ‘coming to terms’ with difficult pages of its inter-ethnic history.”

Why: “In my native Poland, the traces of a Jewish past are everywhere, although they sometimes appear under the form of a meaningful absence. Growing up, I felt a need to discover what this presence—and absence—was all about. It was an insistent question as to why such a vibrant, dynamic minority—the largest European Jewish diaspora before WWII—was almost completely eradicated by the Nazis, only to become, then, something of a taboo in everyday Polish conversation. Once I started trying to understand the complex relationships between Jews and Poles, there was no going back for me. My exploration of this topic led me to study Jewish languages, history, and culture, and eventually brought me to Lafayette’s Jewish studies program.”

This fall I’m teaching: “A first-year seminar on Jewish humor”

What students can expect from me: “Students in my class can expect me to care about them as persons, while I support them professionally on the rewarding journey of developing new research and writing skills. They should look forward to being inspired and challenged by our readings, and to experiencing new perspectives together through our discussions. In a class on Jewish humor, they may also expect that the material itself will often be funny, and I hope that we can share a good laugh from time to time.”

I’m excited to be here because: “I am thrilled and honored to be able to contribute to the development of Jewish studies at Lafayette. Jewish studies is a growing, interdisciplinary field that encompasses topics and approaches ranging from ‘traditional’ history, literature, sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, and political studies, to the history of the sciences, and which, therefore, can speak to students from any department or major. I believe that what our field has to offer can attract students from across many programs who may find intellectual and personal connections to the subject. I look forward to getting to know our students, and to learning with and from them as we explore these topics together. After directing an online program for the past few years, I am also excited to be able to teach in-person again and to work closely with my colleagues who constitute the impressive Lafayette faculty.”

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Jewish Studies

The Jewish Studies Program takes an interdisciplinary approach to examining the many facets of Jewish civilization—including its history, religion, politics, and literature—from its ancient origins through present times in both Western and non-Western societies.

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