Summer Institute May 26-June 7, 2019

For more than four decades, historians have been working diligently to shed light upon the experiences of Jews living in the American South. Yet despite concerted endeavors, the subject of southern Jewry has remained isolated from the broader field of southern history, as well as from American and Jewish histories. This institute aimed to revise our understanding of the entwined histories of the American South and its Jewish inhabitants. Our inquiry shifted Jews from the margins of the story to the center, demonstrating the region’s cosmopolitan past and its relationship to both diversity and discrimination.

Summer scholars became familiar with the substance of southern Jewish history and pondered larger questions of belonging and identity, acceptance and exclusion, acculturation and preservation. Jews have often served as a litmus test for the level of tolerance of the societies in which they have lived. Using a range of materials and methods, "Privilege and Prejudice: Jewish History in the American South" showed how the story of southern Jews can enable a richer, more textured, and inclusive account of the American South, past and present.


Unless otherwise indicated, Institute events were restricted to official participants and faculty, as per the regulations of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

About the Center

“Privilege and Prejudice: Jewish History in the American South” was a project of the College of Charleston’s Pearlstine/Lipov Center for Southern Jewish Culture. The Center seeks to broaden public knowledge and inspire conversations about southern Jewish history by providing research fellowships, engaging the digital humanities, and presenting thinkers and writers to diverse audiences.

Who Applied?

We sought to create a diverse cohort of college and university teachers interested in exploring how Jewish history – and creative pedagogy – can enrich broader narratives of the American South. We especially encouraged scholars of southern history and literature, Jewish studies, ethnic studies, religious studies, public history, and museum studies to apply. Five spaces were reserved for non-tenure track faculty and up to three spaces for advanced graduate students.

Why Apply?

Summer scholars received a stipend to spend two weeks in Charleston, South Carolina, a top travel destination and home to one of America’s oldest Jewish communities. Immersed in a collaborative and interactive learning environment, each scholar developed an individual lesson plan or research project related to the themes of the Institute.

“Privilege and Prejudice: Jewish History in the American South” was made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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