Associate Professor (2006)
Office Hours: On Leave, 2013-2014
Office: 236 Nau Hall
Phone: (434) 924-6408
Email: james.loeffler (at) virginia.edu
Fields & SpecialtiesJewish history; European history; history of human rights
B.A. Harvard University, 1996
M.A. Columbia University, 2000
Ph.D. Columbia University, 2006
The Most Musical Nation: Jews and Culture in the Late Russian Empire (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010; paperback edition, 2013).
- Association for Jewish Studies Jordan Schnitzer Book Award in Cultural Studies and Media Studies, Honorable Mention
- Foundation for Jewish Culture Sidney and Hadassah Musher Publication Award for Outstanding First Book in Field of Jewish Studies
- Association for Jewish Studies Cahnmann Publication Award for Outstanding First Book in the Field of Jewish Studies
- American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP) Deems Taylor-Béla Bartók Award for Outstanding Ethnomusicology Book
- Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies USC Book Prize in Literary and Cultural Studies for outstanding monograph published on Russia, Eastern Europe or Eurasia in the fields of literary and cultural studies
- Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature of the Jewish Book Council, Finalist
- Historia Nova Prize for the Best Book on Russian Intellectual History, Long List
The Vanishing Minority: Human Rights as Jewish Politics, 1919-1989, in preparation.
The Law of Strangers: Critical Perspectives on Jewish Lawyering and International Legal Thought, ed. with Moria Paz, in preparation.
"The Particularist Pursuit of American Universalism: The American Jewish Committee’s 1944 Declaration on Human Rights," Journal of Contemporary History, forthcoming.
“‘In Memory of Our Murdered (Jewish) Children’: Hearing the Holocaust in Soviet Jewish Culture,” Slavic Review 73:3, forthcoming.
"Nationalism without a Nation? On the Invisibility of American Jewish Politics," under review.
"Chopin in the Shtetl: The Aural Politics of Polish-Jewish Relations in the Russian Empire,” under review.
"How Zionism Became Racism: International Law, Antisemitism, and Jewish Lawyering at the United Nations, 1945-1975," draft manuscript.
"Did Zionism Destroy Diaspora Nationalism?" draft manuscript.
"Hersch Lauterpacht and the Zionist Rights of Man: Rethinking Jewish Legal Internationalism," under review.
"'The Conscience of America': Human Rights, Jewish Politics, and American Foreign Policy at the United Nations San Francisco Conference, 1945," Journal of American History, 100 (September 2013): 401-28.
"The Holocaust and Human Rights: A New Perspective," in preparation.
"When Did Jewish Minority Rights End? The World Jewish Congress, Zionism, and Human Rights Advocacy at the United Nations," in preparation.
“Israeli Music at 60: New Perspectives,” Introduction and Guest Editorship of Special Issue of Min-Ad: Israel Studies in Musicology Online 7:2 (2008-2009).
"The Features on My Face: Vladimir Stasov, Dmitrii Shostakovich, and Russian Philosemitism Reconsidered," Jewish Music in Eastern and Central Europe. Conference Proceedings, 2011 (in preparation).
“‘A Special Kind of Antisemitism’: On Russian Nationalism and Jewish Music” and “Three Jews, Two Opinions: Revisiting the Great Yiddish Folk Song Debate of 1901” On the History of Jewish Music in Russia, Volume 3 [Russian], eds. G. Kopytova and A. Frenkel (St. Petersburg: Russian Institute for the History of the Arts), forthcoming.
“Music,” Encyclopedia of Jewish History and Culture, ed. Dan Diner, in association with the Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture, Leipzig. Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler Verlag, 2014.
“International Law,” Encyclopedia of Jewish History and Culture, ed. Dan Diner, in association with the Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture, Leipzig. Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler Verlag, forthcoming.
English Translation of Vassily Grossman story, “Stary Uchitel’,” in Maxim Shrayer, ed., An Anthology of Russian-Jewish Literature, 1800-2000 (M. E. Sharpe, 2006).
“Di Rusishe Progresiv Muzikal Yunyon No. 1 af Amerike: The First Klezmer Union in the United States” in American Klezmer: Its Roots and Offshoots, ed. Mark Slobin (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002).
“Neither the King’s English nor the Rebbetzin’s Yiddish: Yinglish Literature in America,” in American Babel: Literatures of the United States from Abnaki to Zuni, ed. Marc Shell. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002).
Awards and Activities
Academic Advisory Council, Center for Jewish History, 2011-2013
New Directions Committee, Association for Jewish Studies, 2010-present
Founding Research Director, Pro Musica Hebraica, Washington, DC
Non-Resident Research Fellow, Jewish Music Research Centre, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Academic Vice-Chair, The Jewish Music Forum, American Society for Jewish Music, 2006-present
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation New Directions Fellowship, 2013-2015
University of Virginia Buckner W. Clay Endowment Faculty Award, 2011-2012
American Council for Learned Societies/National Endowment for the Humanities/Social Science Research Council Combined Postdoctoral Fellowship for Research on Eastern Europe and Eurasia, 2009-2010
University of Virginia Mead Honored Professors Teaching Award, 2009-2010
Irene Fromer Fellow in Jewish Studies, Columbia University, 2005-2006
Hays-Fulbright Doctoral Dissertation Research Award to Russia and Ukraine, 2003-2004
National Foundation for Jewish Culture Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, 2003-2004
Center for Jewish History Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, 2002-2003
Wexner Foundation Graduate Fellowship, 1998-2002
I work broadly on the intersection of Jewish culture, politics, and identity in modern Eastern Europe, Israel, and the United States. My first book, The Most Musical Nation: Jews and Culture in the Late Russian Empire (Yale University Press, 2010), examines the role of music in the formation of modern Jewish national identity in nineteenth and twentieth-century Russia. Related articles include studies of antisemitism's impact on modern Jewish culture and the place of music in Zionist and Israeli culture.
My current book project, The Vanishing Minority: Human Rights as Jewish Politics, 1919-1989, looks at Jewish role in building and critiquing the modern human rights movement after World War II, focusing on American, European, and Israeli Jewish political activity in international legal circles and at the United Nations in the period from the 1940s to the 1970s. I aim through this work to rethink Jewish internationalism and the modern history of human rights as well as relations between the State of Israel and diasporic Jewish political life. A sample of this new work can be found here. Connected to this work, I am currently co-editing an anthology devoted to Jewish lawyering and international legal thought in the twentieth century.
A related side project reexamines the history of Zionism, offering a new theory of the relationship between Zionism and Diaspora Nationalism in modern Jewish politics. By examining the political writings and thought of interwar American and East European Jewish Zionists, I argue for a reconceptualization of nationalism, liberalism, and minority rights in twentieth-century Jewish political history.
I also have published extensively in the field of Jewish musical studies, with a specialization in the history of Jewish folk and classical music traditions in Eastern Europe. The artistic fruits of this academic research can be seen in my work with the Pro Musica Hebraica concert series at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.