Frances Malino, Wellesley’s Director of Jewish Studies, to Deliver 2018 Distinguished Faculty Lecture

Frances Malino and others seated at a table
December 15, 2017

Frances Malino, the Sophia Moses Robison Professor of Jewish Studies and History, will deliver the 2018 Distinguished Faculty Lecture, President Paula A. Johnson announced today. Malino, an authority on Jewish and European history and the inaugural chair in Jewish Studies at Wellesley, will present “Jewish Voices: Muslim Lands” on April 4, 2018, at 12:30 pm in Collins Cinema. A lunch in the Davis Museum will precede the lecture.

Sponsored by the President’s Office, the Distinguished Faculty Lecture was established in 1999 to provide an opportunity for the College’s accomplished and respected faculty members to deliver a public lecture that allows the community to reflect on the meaning of a liberal arts education.

Malino’s Distinguished Faculty Lecture will cap a series of lectures this spring that each explore a different facet of Jewish studies, from history to literature to its interdisciplinary approach. The lectures are part of the College’s commemoration of the 30th anniversary of establishing the first chair in Jewish Studies at Wellesley and Malino’s appointment to that position. In 1990, the College celebrated the inaugural chair with a campus event (pictured).

“Collectively, these lectures demonstrate the College’s deep appreciation for the many ways Professor Malino has contributed significantly—and with excellence—to the development of the Jewish Studies program, the field of Jewish studies generally, and Wellesley’s contributions to that field,” President Johnson said in the announcement. Malino has served as the director of the program since she began teaching at Wellesley.

“In commemorating this important milestone, the College also honors the many Jewish alumnae and faculty who saw a real need for the endowment of the chair and who so generously funded and supported it,” said President Johnson in her announcement. Alumnae, including those who studied under Malino over the years, will be invited to the lectures; Malino reports that many are already making plans to attend.

"Fran's appointment as the inaugural holder of the Sophia Moses Robison Chair in Jewish Studies was a very significant moment in the history of the College,” said Provost Andrew Shennan. “She has more than fulfilled the optimism that attended her appointment, enriching our curriculum with wide-ranging courses in Jewish history and the history of anti-Semitism, often taught from a distinctively comparative perspective. Fran has also been a singularly effective bridge-builder on our campus, bringing together colleagues and students across lines of difference, connecting Jewish Studies with other fields of study at the College."

As Malino prepares her lecture, and reflects on the upcoming 30th anniversary of the Jewish Studies program, she said she was most proud of the number of its alumnae who are “excelling in so many diverse professions—rabbis, professors, even tour guides in Israel.” She said she has also enjoyed “working with colleagues in other departments to organize programs that highlight the many areas in which Jewish Studies enriches a liberal arts curriculum.”

Malino teaches her students about the experience of Jews within a larger historical context. Her seminars have focused on anti-Semitism in historical perspective as well as the study of Jewish identity across the globe, among other topics. Malino said her first-year seminar Roots of Exile: Jews and Muslims is among her favorite courses. The course is a reflection of some of the key areas of her scholarship, including the important, often unheard stories behind diasporic and marginalized communities.

Malino is a respected scholar and is widely published. In 2012, France’s Ministry of Education honored her with the Chevalier of the Ordre des Palmes Académiques in recognition of her outstanding academic research and instruction in French history.

Malino was the driving force behind Wellesley’s partnership with the nonprofit organization Digital Heritage Mapping to found an initiative called Diarna (“our homes” in Judeo Arabic). Diarna is a multinational, interfaith collaboration of scholars, experts, and artists who travel the world to visit historical sites, collect archival and contemporary photographs and films, interview elderly community residents, and more. Diarna shares this material in myriad educational formats. Under Malino’s supervision, many Wellesley students and recent alumnae have been active in this work, traveling across North Africa and the Middle East.

In her April lecture, Malino will reflect on the history of the Jewish Studies program at Wellesley as well as discuss her most recent research, which has uncovered thousands of letters from Jewish women who lived in the early 20th century. She will explore the complex and inspiring lives of these young Jewish women who traveled to France to train in schools and then returned to North Africa and the Middle East to teach. Her presentation will incorporate multimedia content, including satellite imagery, immersive panoramas, and architectural reconstructions, with a virtual tour of Jewish sites in North Africa and the Middle East.

The two earlier lectures in the series will take place in February and March. Robin Judd ’90, associate professor of history at the Ohio State University and one of Malino’s first mentees at Wellesley, will present “Now You Are My Home”: European Jewish Brides in the U.S., Canada, and Britain, on February 22 at 5:30 pm. This lecture will focus on European and North African Jewish women who, after marrying British, American, and Canadian soldiers, followed their military spouses to their home countries. How were these women received by the families of their new husbands? By the American, Canadian, and British Jewish communities? What did their processes of acculturation look like? Judd will tell a compelling transnational story of politics, family, desire, identity, and community in the wake of extraordinary violence and trauma. This event is co-sponsored by the Department of History.

Ann Goldstein, renowned translator and an editor at the New Yorker, will present “On Translating Elena Ferrante and Primo Levi,” March 15 at 5:30 pm. She will talk about her translation of Elena Ferrante’s “Neapolitan Quartet” and a three-volume publication of Primo Levi’s complete works (2015) that she edited and in part also translated. Following the lecture, a roundtable discussion on translation will take place with Goldstein; Larry Rosenwald, Anne Pierce Rogers Professor of American Literature and professor of English at Wellesley; and Claudia Rosenzweig-Kupfer, Professor in the Joseph and Norman Berman Department of Literature of the Jewish People at Bar-Ilan University, Israel. This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Italian Studies.

Nannerl Overholser Keohane ’61, Wellesley College president from 1981 to 1993, announces the inaugural chair in Jewish Studies at a College celebration in this archival video clip.

Image Caption: (left to right) Frances Malino, Sophia Moses Robison Professor of Jewish Studies and History; Dale Rogers Marshall (who was dean of the College at the time); and Maud Chaplin, Professor Emerita of Philosophy.