Nancy Sinkoff is a cultural-intellectual historian of early modern and modern East European Jewry who is particularly fascinated with the question of how diasporic Jews understood politics. Her work focuses on both the European heartland (Poland) and on transnational settlements—in particular the United States—and examines how East European Jews and their descendants understood themselves as they encountered the political, economic, social, geographic, and religious transformations of modernity.
Her first book, Out of the Shtetl: Making Jews Modern in the Polish Borderlands (2004), explores the first encounter of East European Jews with modernity in the period of Poland’s partitions and the spread of the European Enlightenment to the East. She is currently at work on a biography of Lucy S. Dawidowicz, an American-born historian of East European Jewry who was raised in a Polish-Jewish immigrant family and as a youth traveled to Vilna, Poland immediately before the outbreak of World War II. Because Dawidowicz—motivated in part by the Holocaust’s role in brutally undermining Jewish security in the diaspora—later became an outspoken advocate of Jewish neoconservatism, her life and thought provide insight into the ways in which East European Jews understood politics.
Professor Sinkoff recently published “Yidishkayt and the Making of Lucy S. Dawidowicz,” which prefaces the reissue of Dawidowicz’s memoir, From That Place and Time: A Memoir, 1938-1947 (2008) and “The Polishness of Lucy S. Dawidowicz’s Postwar Jewish Cold War” in A Jewish Feminine Mystique? Jewish Women in Postwar America (2010). “Fiction’s Archive: Authenticity, Ethnography, and Philosemitism in John Hersey’s The Wall,” is forthcoming in Jewish Social Studies.
Professor Sinkoff has been the recipient of an IIE-Fulbright, a Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities, an Advanced Graduate Fellowship in East European Studies from the American Council of Learned Societies, and, most recently, the Donald C. Gallup Fellowship in American Literature at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. Dr. Sinkoff has taught at New York University, Kazan State University, Russia, the International Cultural Center in Cracow, Poland, and has given lectures at the Hebrew University, Bar-Ilan University, and the Yarnton Center for Advanced Jewish Studies in Oxford, UK. She was recently elected to the board of directors of the Association for Jewish Studies.