Cristina A. Bejan with Malachi Hacohen
Community & Scholars Speaker Series
The Regulator Bookshop welcomes Cristina A. Bejan in conversation with Malachi Hacohen, for a discussion of Bejan’s new book, Intellectuals and Fascism in Interwar Romania: The Criterion Association (Modernity, Memory and Identity in South-East Europe). Intellectuals and Fascism in Interwar Romania is the story of how fascism captivated the young minds of Romania’s promising intellectual elite, such as Mircea Eliade and Emil Cioran. Their modernist progressive society, the Criterion Association, collapsed due to the rise of extremism and also a scandal surrounding Criterion’s founder Petru Comarnescu’s rumored homosexuality.
In 1930s Bucharest, some of the country’s most brilliant young intellectuals converged to form the Criterion Association. Bound by friendship and the dream of a new, modern Romania, their members included historian Mircea Eliade, critic Petru Comarnescu, Jewish playwright Mihail Sebastian and a host of other philosophers and artists. Together, they built a vibrant cultural scene that flourished for a few short years, before fascism and scandal splintered their ranks. Cristina A. Bejan asks how the far-right Iron Guard came to eclipse the appeal of liberalism for so many of Romania’s intellectual elite, drawing on diaries, memoirs and other writings to examine the collision of culture and extremism in the interwar years. The first English-language study of Criterion and the most thorough to date in any language, this book grapples with the complexities of Romanian intellectual life in the moments before collapse.
Cristina A. Bejan (Ph.D., Oxford) is a Rhodes and Fulbright scholar. She has had fellowships at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), the Wilson Center and Georgetown University. While a researcher for USHMM, she authored 64 articles on camps in Africa and Europe for the “Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos – Vol. 3.” Most recently she taught history at Duke University. A playwright and spoken word artist, her creative work has appeared in the US, UK, Romania and Vanuatu. Bejan runs the arts and culture collective Bucharest Inside the Beltway, based in Denver, Colorado and Bucharest, Romania.
Malachi Haim Hacohen (Ph.D., Columbia), Bass Fellow and Professor of History, Political Science and Religion, is Director of the Religions and Public Life Initiative at the Kenan Institute for Ethics and member of the faculties of Slavic and Eurasian, German and Jewish Studies at Duke. He teaches intellectual history and Jewish European history. Hacohen has been a recipient of the Frederick Burkhardt Fellowship from the ACLS, as well as of Fulbright, Mellon, and Whiting fellowships and a number of teaching awards. He is a coordinator of the Triangle Intellectual History Seminar (Duke, NCSU, UNC, and Wake Forest University) and the North Carolina Jewish Studies Seminar.
Free and open to the public. Co-sponsored by the Regulator Bookshop and the Forum for Scholars and Publics at Duke University.
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