Dennis B. Klein, PhD.

Professor of History
Director of Jewish Studies Program
Department of History

Modern European and Modern Jewish History
University of Rochester (Ph.D., 1978)

Willis Hall Room 205G
Phone: 908-737-4256

Office Hours: See KeanWISE




Click here for current term syllabi

American Jewish History
Strangers in Creative Tension
Hist 3863

Historically Jews have shown a striking resilience at surviving ambient contempt in the countries they lived in, but not until their arrival in the United States have they confronted the mixed blessings of  a society dedicated to promoting their civic and material success.  Why and how did American Jews remain "Jewish" in America's open and relentlessly secularizing society?  For American Jews who "made it," what, if anything, remained Jewish in their lives and how did that distinctive American-Jewish residue revise and transform both traditional Jewish existence and America's progressive self-understanding?  How, in short, did a fundamentally Christian America and successive waves of Jewish immigrants endeavor to live together?


The Nazi Era
The Politics and Culture of Totalitarianism

Hist 3244:01 / Hist 5244:02 / MAHG 5000

Nazism, the German Third Reich that ruled Germany from 1933-45 and most of continental Europe in World War II, offers a glimpse not only into the evolution of German Europe in the 20th century, but also into the emergence of the total state in the modern world.  In order to understand these twin phenomena, we will first take a close look at the millennial dream of empire (“Reich”) in German Europe. We will also consider the origins of Hitler’s totalitarian regime against the background of total war (hot and cold), from the beginning of World War I in 1914 to the end of World War II in 1945.


History of Western Civilization I
The Remembered and Suppressed Past
Hist 1030:01

The present course will acknowledge the influence of past events on successive developments by briefly examining the history of the West chronologically; that is, as a progressive sequence of events.  This traditional approach will, in addition, provide a familiar, orienting historical framework.  But to respond meaningfully to the stubborn problems of our time, this course will seek to resurrect dormant Western traditions (that is, the possible), treating past events--dormant and dominant--as completely independent and self-contained worlds, and equally instructive.  This less common approach will make the case that historical actors (yourselves included) deal with reality by summoning not only history's lessons--the traditions we readily inherit-- but also suppressed, half-forgotten, "irrelevant" traditions that possess a power to change the course of events.


The Holocaust, Genocide, and Modern Humanity ID 1800

This may well be your most enriching and most demanding elective course. No subject generates more controversy and requires more attention than the subject of genocide. Genocide – the deliberate attempt, at the highest levels of government, at eliminating an entire group of people – is a uniquely modern concern, implicating intellectuals and other professionals in addition to political leaders. We will examine testimonies, documentary films, guest lectures, and case studies of genocide in Asia, Africa, and the United States, as well as the phenomenon of the Holocaust – the paradigmatic genocide of the what some observers regard as the most calamitous century (that is, the 20th century) in history. We will learn to sound victims’ “deep” or emotional memory – the region of the mind where post-traumatic rupture, dislocation and “counter-time” appear to reside. We will also consider some strategies our contemporaries are learning to adopt for living in a world plagued by genocidal eruptions. These strategies include denial, deterrence, and forgiveness. They also include the largely unexamined and pious, if not errant belief that the humanities can humanize and nurture tolerant behavior. Hence our objective is to understand the origins and virulence of genocide before considering our roles and responsibilities as concerned world citizens.



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