For the last year, six scholars from diverse fields have been collaborating in USC Shoah Foundation's inaugural Scholar Lab to address the question, “Why the Jews?” This fall, in a series of three events, scholars will discuss what they have learned and present individual research projects.
At the first event, MacArthur Grant-winner Dr. Josh Kun of USC will present commentary, music and archival recordings in his exploration of the Nazi’s use of music as a soundtrack of terror. UCLA’s Dr. Todd Presner, winner of the Digital Media and Learning Prize from the MacArthur Foundation/HASTAC, will present a computational analysis of the language survivors use to describe antisemitism in Visual History Archive testimony. Discussion moderated by Dr. Alexis Lerner, assistant professor of Political Science at the United States Naval Academy.
This event is the first in the three-part event series associated with USC Shoah Foundation’s Scholar Lab on Antisemitism.
Dr. Kun is a cultural historian, author, and curator. He holds the Chair in Cross-Cultural Communication in the USC Annenberg School where he is Professor of Communication and Journalism. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship (2016), a Berlin Prize (2018), and an American Book Award (2006). His books include Double Vision: The Photography of George Rodriguez, Songs in the Key of Los Angeles, The Tide Was Always High: The Music of Latin America in Los Angeles, Audiotopia: Music, Race, and America, and several others. As an artist and curator, he has worked with Prospect New Orleans, SFMOMA, Grammy Museum, the Getty Foundation, the Getty Research Institute, California African American Museum, Skirball Cultural Center, National Museum of American Jewish History, Contemporary Jewish Museum, among others. He hosts a monthly radio show appears on Artform Radio and WorldwideFM, and co-curates Crossfade Lab, a Latinx performance and conversation series in Phoenix, Arizona. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, and more. He co-edits the book series Refiguring American Music for Duke University Press, and serves on the boards of the UC Humanities Research Institute, Dublab, Miry’s List, and Alma Backyard Farms. He is currently writing a book on music and 21st century migration for MCD Books/FSG. He hosts a monthly radio show that appears on Artform Radio.
Dr. Presner is Michael and Irene Ross Professor and Chair in the Department of European Languages and Transcultural Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. His research focuses on European intellectual and cultural history, Holocaust studies, visual culture, and digital humanities. Dr. Presner's most recent books include Probing the Ethics of Holocaust Culture (Harvard University Press, 2016), co-edited with Claudio Fogu and Wulf Kansteiner, and Urban Humanities: New Practices for Reimagining the City (MIT Press, 2020). He is currently completing his monograph entitled Ethics of the Algorithm: Computational Approaches to Holocaust History and Memory. Dr. Presner is the recipient of the "Digital Media and Learning" Prize from the MacArthur Foundation/HASTAC and many other research and institutional grants.
Dr. Presner received his MA and PhD in Comparative Literature from Stanford University and his PhD in History of Art from the University of California, Berkeley.
Dr. Lerner is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the United States Naval Academy. Her research is on the intersection of authoritarianism and dissent, with a regional focus on Russia and the post-Soviet region, and she is also a scholar of the Holocaust. Her work has been published by Holocaust Studies (2021) and the Routledge Handbook of Religion, Mass Atrocity, and Genocide (2022). Dr. Lerner is currently completing her book manuscript, entitled Post-Soviet Graffiti: Free Speech in the Streets (under advance contract with University of Toronto Press), which demonstrates that street art is a viable tool for political communication, and effective in circumventing autocratic censorship.
Prior to her appointment at the USNA, Dr. Lerner was a Presidential Data Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Western Ontario (2020-2021), a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University’s Harriman Institute (2017-2019), a Visiting Research Fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2016-2017), and the Director of Research for the Stanford University US-Russia Forum (2016-2018).