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 19-21st century Europe with a growing interest in world history. Before joining Indiana University I was teaching at Munich University in Germany. Apart from this long-time appointment I held guest positions in Berkeley, Berlin/Germany and Zurich/Switzerland.

My first book Next Year in Marienbad: The Lost Worlds of Jewish Spa Culture is a spatial history of European Jewish cultures before World War II. It describes health resorts as stages of modernity, where a growing variety of Jewish identities was put on display. Through the prisms of sociability, cultural encounter, perception by and of others, body politics and space it analyzes the centrality of these summery refuges for modern Jewish cultures in Europe and beyond.

My second book is a biography of the Trotskyist politician Werner Scholem, the once famous elder brother of Gershom Scholem. His biography tells an exceptional story of success, failure, hope, love, betrayal and persecution – and last but not least sheds light on a central yet often overlooked part of Jewish history: the red sheep of the family and their story as "non-Jewish Jews".

More recently I have been working on a project entitled A Deal Made in Heaven: Economy and Romance in Modern Jewish History, a cultural history of “Shidduchim”, Jewish matchmaking. The "dating project" focuses on strategies of building economic and political networks through carefully chosen marriage partners around the globe. Naturally, romance is of growing importance in the global Jewish marriage-market since the beginning of the 20th century.

Other topics that keep me busy include:

  • a text book on modern Jewish world history
  • a research project on Reuven Brainin (1862-1939), an influential literary critic, who was born in Russia and spend his life in Berlin, Vienna, the US and Canada. Brainin tried to bridge between the contradicting ideologies of Zionism and communism, and between Yiddish and Hebrew. By attempting this reconciliation he wrote himself out of Jewish history and memory, and is forgotten today. 

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

  • Modern Cultural History

  • Global History of the Jews

  • Body Politics

  • Migration Studies from 1800 until Today

  • Economic History

  • History of the Holocaust

  • History of Love and Emotions

  • Jews & the Left

  • Biographies of Jewish Communists and Socialists

  • Spatial Studies

  • Reuven Brainin


  • 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), 284 pp. English edition (forthcoming, University of Pennsylvania Press). Hebrew edition (forthcoming, Yad Vashem and Carmel Publishing House)
    • 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) in November 2014
  • 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. German Original (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 2007). Hebrew edition (forthcoming, Shazar Publishing House). Czech edition (forthcoming)
    • 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.
Recent Articles
  • "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), pp. 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, 633-642.