I write to bring you up to date about the study of antisemitism at Yale. Earlier this month, I indicated that, with the advice of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Steering Committee, we had accepted a faculty review committee’s recommendation, following its thorough investigation, that the Yale Interdisciplinary Initiative for the Study of Antisemitism (YIISA) be discontinued at the end of the summer. The review committee determined that YIISA had not stimulated or supported sufficient faculty research or courses for students to warrant its continuance. I also indicated that we very much hoped to provide support to scholarship and teaching on antisemitism emanating from the Yale faculty.
Since these decisions were made, I have been gratified to learn that Professor Maurice Samuels and a group of faculty colleagues have expressed interest in the creation of a new scholarly enterprise, the Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism (YPSA), and that the Whitney Humanities Center has agreed to sponsor it. Professor Samuels, who will convene YPSA, has written an award-winning book on Jewish fiction writers in France, and he is currently working on a major study of the portrayal of Jews in French literature and culture from the time of the Revolution through the present. Professor Samuels’s recent courses offered to Yale undergraduates have included “Jewish Identity and French Culture” and “Representing the Holocaust.”
Participants in YPSA will meet on a regular basis to discuss ongoing research by Yale faculty and graduate students. Professor Samuels and his colleagues will also bring in visiting speakers who have expertise that is relevant to the group’s evolving interests, and they will host multidisciplinary research conferences and reading groups. Yale faculty and student participants will be eligible to apply for research support. Through these various means, YPSA will encourage serious scholarly discourse and collaborative research focused on antisemitism, one of the world’s oldest and most enduring prejudices, in all its forms. YPSA will be open to the entire Yale community.
I am hopeful that this program will produce major scholarship on the vitally important subject of antisemitism. Professor Samuels and his colleagues have Yale’s remarkable library resources at their disposal, including the Fortunoff Video Archives of Holocaust Testimonies and the 95,000 volume Judaica collection of the Yale Library.
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your keen interest in the study of antisemitism at Yale. This is an exciting new beginning, and we all look forward to seeing the results.
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology