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Race, Degeneracy and Eugenics in the Late 19th/ Early 20th Centuries

In the 19th century, in fields as diverse as evolutionary theory (Darwin) and bacteriology (Pasteur), ‘the human sciences’ as we know it today were born.

Along with the promise of progress, science simultaneously espoused ideas about racial purity and ‘degeneration’. Sadly, many contemporary views on human nature have been greatly influenced by that seemingly distant world of social engineering and eugenic speculation.

And it is this haunting presence that so regularly appears to derail the progress we were promised. 

Learn about the dawn of the eugenics movement and how concepts of race, purity, and degeneracy intertwined in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

DATE: Thursday, May 11, 2023
TIME: 7:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Jewish Museum Milwaukee
COST: Museum Members $8 | Nonmembers $15
BUNDLE AND SAVE: Museum Members $20 | Nonmembers $35

Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center (HERC)
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee | The Sam and Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies

Sander L. Gilman is a distinguished professor emeritus of the Liberal Arts and Sciences as well as emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at Emory University.  A cultural and literary historian, he is the author or editor of over one hundred books. 

He is the author of the basic study of the visual stereotyping of the mentally ill, Seeing the Insane (1982 (reprinted: 1996 and 2014) as well as the standard study of Jewish Self-Hatred, the title of his study of 1986, which is still in print. He is also the co-editor of Degeneration (1985). 

For twenty-five years he was a member of the humanities and medical faculties at Cornell University where he held the Goldwin Smith Professorship of Humane Studies.  For six years he held the Henry R. Luce Distinguished Service Professorship of the Liberal Arts in Human Biology at the University of Chicago.  For four years he was a distinguished professor of the Liberal Arts and Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he created the ‘Humanities Laboratory.’ 

During 1990-1991 he served as the Visiting Historical Scholar at the National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD; 1996-1997 as a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, CA; 2000-2001 as a Berlin prize fellow at the American Academy in Berlin; 2004-5 as the Weidenfeld Visiting Professor of European Comparative Literature at Oxford University; 2007 to 2012 as Professor at the Institute in the Humanities, Birkbeck College; 2010 to 2013 as a Visiting Research Professor at The University of Hong Kong; and as the Alliance Professor of History at the Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich (2017-18). 

He has been a visiting professor at numerous universities in North America, South Africa, The United Kingdom, Germany, Israel, China, and New Zealand.  He was president of the Modern Language Association in 1995.  He has been awarded a Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) at the University of Toronto in 1997, elected an honorary professor of the Free University in Berlin (2000), an honorary member of the American Psychoanalytic Association (2007), and made a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2016). 

At the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Genetics, and Eugenics, a racial hygienist measures a woman’s features in an attempt to determine her racial ancestry. Berlin, Germany, date uncertain. National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD.

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