Professor Elizabeth Sears (University of Michigan) – Academic Refugees in the 1930s: In and Around the Warburg Circle

Having accepted the necessity of exile, as they ventured into the unknown refugees had massive practicalities to contend with. This talk draws on archival materials, especially relating to the activities of the Society for the Preservation of Science and Learning (SPSL), to reconstruct procedures (forms to fill out, testimonials to supply, etc.) and to indicate the nature of the help émigrés received from organizations and individuals in Britain and the United States. In 1933 the SPSL (then under the name Academic Assistance Council) had helped the Warburg Library and staff leave Hamburg and transfer to London to become the Warburg Institute. This institution in turn played a major role in offering advice and helping academic refugees in relevant fields to find their way.

Elizabeth Sears is George H. Forsyth Junior Collegiate Professor of History of Art at the University of Michigan. Her two main areas of specialization are European representational arts from the eighth through the fourteenth century, and historiography. She is currently engaged in writing a collective biography, tentatively titled Warburg Circles, 1929-1964.

This event is part of the Director’s Seminar Series, which brings leading scholars to the Institute to share new research and fresh perspectives on the key issues in their fields. The lecture also forms part of Insiders/ Outsiders, a nationwide arts festival taking place from March 2019 to March 2020 to celebrate refugees from Nazi Europe and their contribution to British culture.

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