Springfield, Ohio -
The Columbus Jewish Foundation, the Jewish Arts Endowment and the Ohio Humanities Council have awarded grants totaling $19,000 to Wittenberg Professor of Religion Rochelle L. Millen, Associate Professor of History Tammy Proctor, and Associate Professor of Languages Timothy L. Wilkerson in support of the 2003 conference on the Dreyfus Affair.
The conference, titled "The Dreyfus Affair: Race, Religion and the Molding of National Identity," which will take place March 26-29 at Wittenberg University, aims to address the central question: How do we understand race and religion in the modern world? The interdisciplinary conference will feature scholars of history, literature and religion from Germany, Israel, Turkey, France, Canada, Great Britain, and the United States.
This event, "will bring together internationally known scholars of the Dreyfus Affair with younger academics at the beginning of their careers to set the stage for a community dialogue about race, religion, and national identity," Millen said. Notable speakers include Dr. David Brenner, head of the Ohio Council on Holocaust Education, Dr. Paula E. Hyman, author of "From Dreyfus to Vichy,"and the Lucy Moses Professor of Modern Jewish History at Yale, and Dr. Michael Burns, noted Dreyfus expert and historian at Mount Holyoke College. In addition, Wittenberg will sponsor a screening of the 1937 Oscar-winning film, "The Life of Emile Zola,"and the university will host an interfaith peace service at the end of the conference.
The 2003 event is the second of its kind to be held at Wittenberg. The Jewish Foundation and the Ohio Humanities Council also helped support a conference at Wittenberg in 1993, titled "Teaching the Holocaust: Issues and Dilemmas." Both groups deem this central question relevant to their organization's objectives. The Columbus Jewish Foundation's goal is to "support continuing education efforts to strengthen identity," while the mission of the Ohio Humanities Council is to "encourage all Ohioans to become explorers of the human story, to use history, philosophy, and the other humanities as the means to arrive at new insights."
This year's conference, which is open to the public, expects to draw 600-1,000 participants, including students, staff, faculty, and the central Ohio community. A workshop for teachers and high school students is also planned. Due to the topical nature of the conference, a large community turnout is expected to discuss the Dreyfus Affair and its ramifications. The Dreyfus Affair is based on a case surrounding Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer in the French Army who was arrested and falsely accused of espionage and treason in 1894. After a media circus and political pressure from other world leaders, the French government eventually pardoned Dreyfus for the crime he never committed.
According to the project description, "The multiple implications of the Dreyfus Affair encapsulate the issues facing those who value the humanities. What is the political responsibility of the artist, journalist, scholar, cleric, or teacher in speaking out at times of conflict or crises?"
"An examination of the Dreyfus Trial allows us to analyze the nuances of ethical decision-making in the face of passionate engagement with national culture and ethnic adversity," Proctor added.
The three-and-a-half day conference will also showcase a poster exhibition, which will be loaned to area organizations and schools after the conference.
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