Consuming Temples on Both Sides of the Atlantic: German-speaking Jews from the Department Store to the Mall

Lecture | April 24 | 5-6:30 p.m. | 201 Moses Hall

 Paul Lerner

 Institute of European Studies, Center for German and European Studies

This talk focuses on two contexts: the formation of consumer culture in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Germany and the activites of German-speaking émigrés in American consumer culture after World War II. It will show how department stores and other commercial venues were coded and represented as "Jewish" in the pre-war German context, while in postwar America, the work of some of these same figures was seen as "European" and sophisticated. Ultimately, in this talk I try to challenge simple binaries between European and American consumer culture, revealing previously unappreciated mutual influences and cross-fertilization across the twentieth century, long-term processes in which émigrés and refugees from fascism played a unique role.

Paul Lerner is Professor of History at the University of Southern California where he directs the Max Kade Institute for Austrian-German-Swiss Studies. He has written two books: Hysterical Men: War, Psychiatry and the Politics of Trauma in Germany, 1890-1930 (Cornell) and The Consuming Temple: Jews, Department Stores, and the Consumer Revolution in Germany, 1880-1940 (Cornell).

 heike@berkeley.edu, 510-643-4558