Young, James E.

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YOUNG, JAMES E. (1951– ), U.S. Holocaust scholar. Born in California, educated at the University of California, Santa Cruz (B.A. 1973, Ph.D. 1983) and the University of California, Berkeley (M.A. 1976), Young taught at Bryn Mawr College (1983–84), New York University (1984–88), and from 1988 at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he was named professor of English and Judaic Studies and chair of the Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies. He was a visiting professor at the universities of Washington, Harvard, and Princeton, and a lecturer at other universities and public forums. He was a fellow of the yivo Institute for Jewish Research and the Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University, and received fellowships or grants from the Guggenheim and Littauer foundations, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and other scholarly support organizations. Young served on the boards or advisory committees of the New England Holocaust Memorial Committee, the State Museum at Terezin, the International Auschwitz Council of the Polish Ministry of Culture, and the commission for the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, as well as consulting with other national and municipal memorial authorities. He was the curator of "The Art of Memory" exhibition at the Jewish Museum in New York in 1994 and is the editor-in-chief of the Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization, a multivolume collection of primary sources, documents, texts, and images sponsored by the Posen Foundation.

Young's scholarly work focused on historical memory and memorialization, and in particular the aesthetics and politics of Holocaust memorials, on which he is a recognized authority. Young's insight that "the motives of memory are never pure" informs his examination of the ways in which contemporary political commitments and exigencies shape what is remembered and how it is memorialized, and how a memorial may become part of a reductive political mythology. He proposes that the "countermonument" – a work of art that interrogates and undermines intended, official meaning – is the best guarantor that viewers will experience a more genuine sense of historical memory not entirely mediated by a heroic or redemptive national narrative. Young examined the process of representing the Holocaust both in personal literary and artistic works and in official public memorials in Poland, Germany, Israel, and elsewhere. His principal publications are Writing and Rewriting the Holocaust: Narrative and the Consequences of Interpretation (1988), The Texture of Memory: Holocaust Memorials and Meaning (1993), Holocaust Memorials in History: The Art of Memory (edited, 1994), At Memory's Edge: After-Images of the Holocaust in Contemporary Art and Architecture (essays, 2000). He contributed essays to a number of collected volumes and published numerous articles and reviews in academic as well as less scholarly journals and newspapers.

[Drew Silver (2nd ed.)]