"Writing Occupation: Jewish Emigré Voices in Wartime France" - A Roundtable Discussion with Julia Elsky, Loyola University Chicago

Julia Elsky

Julia Elsky is Assistant Professor of French at Loyola University Chicago. Her book, Writing Occupation: Jewish Émigré Voices in Wartime France came out this...

Thursday March 11th 2021, 12:00 - 1:30 PM

Among the Jewish writers who emigrated from Eastern Europe to France in the 1910s and 1920s, a number chose to switch from writing in their languages of origin to writing primarily in French, a language that represented both a literary center and the promises of French universalism. But under the Nazi occupation of France from 1940 to 1944, these Jewish émigré writers—among them Irène Némirovsky, Benjamin Fondane, Romain Gary, Jean Malaquais, and Elsa Triolet—continued to write in their adopted language, even as the Vichy regime and Nazi occupiers denied their French identity through xenophobic and antisemitic laws.

This event is co-sponsored by the French and Italian Department in the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages, Stanford University

Buy the book(enter code Elsky20 to save 20%)


  • Jessica Riskin - France-Stanford Center Director and Professor, Department of History, Stanford University. Her research interests include early modern science, politics and culture and the history of scientific explanation. She is the author of Science in the Age of Sensibility: The Sentimental Empiricists of the French Enlightenment (University of Chicago Press, 2002), which won the American Historical Association's J. Russell Major Prize for best book in English on any aspect of French history, and the editor of Genesis Redux: Essays in the History and Philosophy of Artificial Life (University of Chicago Press, 2007) and, with Mario Biagioli, of Nature Engaged: Science in Practice from the Renaissance to the Present (Palgrave, 2012). Her latest book is The Restless Clock: A History of the Centuries-Long Debate about What Makes Living Things Tick (University of Chicago Press, 2016).jriskin [at] stanford.edu ()


  • Lisa Leff - Historian of European and Jewish history, specializing in the history of Jews in France. She is the author of Sacred Bonds of Solidarity: The Rise of Jewish Internationalism in Nineteenth Century France (2006), Colonialism and the Jews (2017) and The Archive Thief: the Man Who Salvaged French Jewish History in the Wake of the Holocaust (2015), which received the 2016 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish literature. She was named American University's 2017 Scholar-Teacher of the Year.
  • Norman Naimark - Professor, Department of History, Stanford University. Professor, by courtesy, of German Studies and Senior Fellow, by courtesy, at the Hoover Institution. He is the author of two books on the Russian and Polish revolutionary movements in the late nineteenth century. He has also edited or co-edited books and document collections on the nationality problems of the Soviet Union, on the outbreak of World War II on the eastern front, on politics and history in the Soviet Union, on relations between Moscow and the Soviet Military Administration in Germany, on the establishment of communist power in Eastern Europe, on the Soviet occupation of Austria, and on the war in former Yugoslavia.
  • Gil-li Vardi - Military historian and lecturer at Stanford's History Department and International Relations Program, and visiting scholar at the Stanford Center for International Security and Cooperation. She studies dynamics of change in military organizations, specifically how modern European armies evolved and adapted their doctrines and operational habits in the 20th century. She teaches courses and seminars on modern military history, and on the First and Second World Wars. 
  • Laura Wittman - Professor, Department of French and Italian, Stanford University. She primarily works on 19th- and 20th-century Italian and French literature from a comparative perspective. She is interested in how modernity articulates new relationships between religious experience, embodiment, mortality, health, and politics, and how these are mediated by literary and artistic creations.