by Geoff Larcom, Published November 11, 2010
YPSILANTI - Martin Shichtman, a professor of English language and literature who has taught at Eastern Michigan for 26 years, has been appointed director of Jewish studies for the University.
As director, Shichtman will create alliances with EMU's Jewish community, coordinate EMU's Jewish Studies Lecture Series and develop curriculum. The area of Jewish studies includes classes for all EMU students interested in Jewish life and culture, as well as opportunities for study abroad and internships.
Shichtman, who began at Eastern in 1984, has been an active figure in the academic life of the University. He has organized and participated in numerous EMU campus discussions and panels, including serving as a moderator for the Interfaith Panel, "Did God Survive the Holocaust," held in 2009. Last month, Shichtman was a panelist during a well-attended discussion on values, respect and hate imagery, held after The Eastern Echo had published a controversial cartoon invoking the Ku Klux Klan.
"I am delighted to name Marty Shichtman head of Jewish studies at Eastern," said Jack Kay, Eastern provost and executive vice president. "He is an exceptional, productive and creative scholar, and plays a vital and central role in campus affairs."
"Most EMU students know very little about Judaism or about Jewish culture," Shichtman said. "Many are not aware of ever having met a Jew. It is becoming increasingly evident that comprehensive universities like EMU, institutions dedicated to promoting an understanding of American diversity, also need to provide their students with an awareness of Jewish life and culture"
Shichtman earned his doctorate and master's from the University of Iowa, and his bachelor's from the State University of New York, Binghamton. He has taught more than a dozen courses at the graduate and undergraduate levels at Eastern, including classes on Chaucer, Arthurian literature and Jewish American literature. Classes focusing on Jewish life include "Imagining the Holy Land," and "Culture and the Holocaust."
Shichtman has written four books. The latest, "Cinematic Illusions: The Middle Ages on Film," co-authored with Laurie Finke, recently received Eastern's annual Faculty Scholarship Recognition Award for best book by a faculty member.
He has held fellowships at The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and with Brandies University's Summer Institute for Israel Studies. In 2008, he was chosen as a Hillel International Summit Scholar.
Shichtman also received the EMU Distinguished Faculty Award for Teaching in 1996, and the EMU Alumni Association Award for Teaching Excellence in 1993. In 1990, he received a State of Michigan Teaching Excellence Award.