Yale University
Primo Levi Fellowship

Research Topic

Bystanders, Jews, and the Legal Imagination in Vichy France


Carolyn J. Dean is Charles J. Stille Professor in the Departments of History and French at Yale University. A historian of modern Europe with a focus on the twentieth century, she researches the intersection of ideas and culture. At the Katz Center, she will address the emergence of the “bad Samaritan,” or bystander law, in Vichy France and its survival in French postwar law to explore the mostly invisible violence perpetrated against Jews, and as a window more broadly onto the passive injustices (now dubbed “microaggressions”) experienced by minority populations under both dictatorship and democracy.

Dean received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. She has taught at Yale University, Monash University in Australia, Brown University, Cornell University, Grinnell College, and Northwestern University.

Selected publications

  • The Moral Witness: Trials and Testimony after Genocide (Cornell University Press, 2019)
  • Aversion and Erasure: The Fate of the Victim after the Holocaust (Cornell University Press, 2010)
  • The Fragility of Empathy after the Holocaust (Cornell University Press, 2004)



Studying law between the eighteenth and twenty-first centuries, an age of transition from a world of empires to the modern age of the nation-state and international law.