Lunchtime Lecture by Professor Michael Miller Laurence
13 November @ 1pm
Jewish Beauty and Jewish Questions in Hungary, Poland and Eretz Yisrael
In 1929, Elizabeth Simon (Simon Boske) won the Miss
Hungary beauty pageant and then went on to become Miss Europa. After Hungary's
defeat in World War I and its huge territorial losses in 1920, the victory of
Miss Hungary over all of the other European contestants was welcomed by
Hungarian nationalists as a sign of Hungary's indomitable spirit . . . until
they realized that Elizabeth Simon was a Jew.
This talk will examine the
debates in interwar Europe about the Jewish Question, national identity and
"Jewish" beauty. It will also compare the Miss Hungary pageant to
explicitly "Jewish" beauty pageants in the late 1920s, such as the
Miss Judea pageant in Warsaw and the Queen Esther pageant in Tel Aviv, shedding
light on the divergent attitudes towards assimilation and acculturation in the
Hungarian, Polish and Zionist contexts.
Michael L. Miller is an Associate Professor in the
Nationalism Studies program at Central European University in Budapest, where
he helped to establish the Jewish Studies Program. He is currently the Louis
and Helen Padnos Visiting Professor of Judaic Studies at the University of
Michigan, Ann Arbor. He received his Ph.D. in History from Columbia University.
Miller’s book, Rabbis and Revolution: The Jews of Moravia in the Age of
Emancipation, was just published by Stanford University Press.