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Mirjam Zadoff

Associate Professor, Department of History

Alvin H. Rosenfeld Endowed Chair, Borns Jewish Studies Program

Department of History

IU, IU Bloomington

Full Biography

I am a historian of 19th to 21st century Europe, with a growing interest in world history. My first book Next Year in Marienbad: The Lost Worlds of Jewish Spa Culture deals with the question in what way space determines modern Jewish identity. In the first half of the 20th century, spa culture was an essential part of life in Western and Eastern Europe as well as the United States—and especially a part of Jewish life. Bourgeois Jews travelled to fashionable spas, just as proletarian and Chassidic Jews did. My book describes the health resorts as stages displaying a growing variety and complexity of Jewish identities, seen through the prisms of sociability, cultural encounter, perception by and of others, body politics and space.

My second book, published in August 2014, is a biography of the Trotskyist politician Werner Scholem, the once famous brother of the religious studies scholar Gershom Scholem. Based on a variety of sources and perspectives, the life of Werner Scholem is an exceptional story of success, failure, love, betrayal and persecution. These motives would make the perfect plot for a novel; in my book they are based on historical analysis and "translated" into a biographical narrative. Werner Scholem's biography reflects an alternative yet central German-Jewish experience in the first half of the twentieth century, and sheds light on the complex but close relationship between "Jewish Jews" and "non-Jewish Jews." My new research project Jews in Love: From Shidduchim to Romance deals with the topic of becoming acquainted and falling in love in the age of migration. The "dating project" derives from my interest in spatial history and the history of migration, literature studies and historical anthropology. It therefore takes a comparative perspective on the various worlds of modern Judaism and other minority and majority cultures.

Apart from this exciting new project, I started writing a text book on modern Jewish world history, and an extended article on the intellectual and literary critic Reuven Brainin (1862-1939), a forgotten figure in American and European history. Brainin, who tried to bridge the gap between Zionism and communism, and between Yiddish and Hebrew, is one of the figures on the margins of Judaism, in which I have become interested consequently after my research on Werner Scholem.

Honors and Awards

  • Finalist, Yad Vashem International Book Prize for Holocaust Research (2015)
  • Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History (2014)
  • Munich University,  Award for Innovation in Teaching (2013)
  • Salo W. Baron Prize, American Academy of Jewish Research (2012)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Hanadiv Rothschild Foundation (2006-07)
  • Peregrinus Award, Bavarian Academy of Sciences (2007)
  • Munich University Dissertation Award (2007)
  • Theodor Koerner Award for Science and Arts, Vienna (2003)

Research Interests

  • Cultural and Intellectual History
  • Love and Courtship
  • Migration
  • Jews and the Left
  • Biography
  • History of Space


  • M.A. at University of Vienna, 2001
  • Ph.D. at Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, 2006

Courses Taught


  • Introduction into Modern Jewish History. From Spanish Expulsion to the Present
  • The Jewish Body. Race, Science, Beauty & Ugliness
  • Economy and the Jews. Stereotypes - History - Reality
  • Refugees. From 1880 until Today


  • Who is a Jew? Jewish Identity in 20th Century Jewish Thought



  • Der rote Hiob. Das Leben des Werner Scholem. Munich: Carl Hanser, 2014. (English Translation under contract with University of Pennsylvania Press)
    • Finalist, Yad Vashem International Book Prize for Holocaust Research (2015)
    • Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History (2014)
    • 10 best books nominated by the German newspaper “Sueddeutsche Zeitung” and the Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR Northern German Broadcasting)
  • Next Year in Marienbad. The Lost Worlds of Jewish Spa Culture. Jewish Culture and Contexts Series, Trans. W. Templer. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press 2012 (in German Original, Goettingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 2007 Hebrew translation in preparation, Jerusalem: Shazar)
    • Salo W. Baron Prize, American Academy of Jewish Research (2012)
    • Peregrinus Award, Bavarian Academy of Sciences (2007)
  • "Arisierung" von Mobilien, with Gabriele Anderl, Edith Blaschitz, Sabine Loitfellner and Niko Wahl. Vienna: Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag 2004.


  • "German-Jewish Borderlands. On 'non-Jewish Jewish Spaces' in Weimar and Nazi Germany." In: Jewish and non-Jewish Spaces in Urban Context, ed. by Alina Gromova, Felix Heinert and Sebastian Voigt. (Berlin: Neofelis 2015), pp. 151-164.
  • "From Mission to Memory. Walter Benjamin and Werner Scholem in the Life and Work of Gershom Scholem," co-authored with Noam Zadoff. In: Journal of Modern Jewish Studes 13 (2014), 58-74.
  • Von Visionären, Rückkehrern und Hooligans: Begegnungen im Wilden Osten, in: Jüdischer Almanach der Leo Baeck Institute: Begegnungen, ed. by Gisela Dachs. Berlin 2014, pp. 125-134.
  • "Gerhard Gershom Scholem," co-authored with Noam Zadoff. In: Jugendbewegt gepraegt. Essays zu autobiographischen Texten von Werner Heisenberg, Robert Jungk und vielen anderen, ed. by Barbara Stambolis. Goettingen: 2013