Top Young Historians: 101- Holly Case


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

101: Holly Case, 3-9-09

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Associate Professor of History, Cornell University, 2008-Present
Area of Research: Territorial revision and treatment of minorities during WWII; History of European renewal; History of media in East-Central and Southeastern Europe
Education: Ph.D. in History and Humanities, Stanford University, June 2004
Major Publications: Case is the author of Between States: The Transylvanian Question and the European Idea during WWII [forthcoming spring 2009, Stanford University Press] and the editor with
Holly Case JPGNorman M. Naimark if Yugoslavia and Its Historians: Understanding the Balkan Wars of the 1990s (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2003).
She is also working on the manuscript Between the Lines: Contested Boundaries and the Fate of the Jews and other Minorities in Eastern Europe during WWII.
Case is also the author of numerous book chapters and reviews including among others:”Being European: East and West,” in European Identity, Jeffrey Checkel and Peter Katzenstein, eds. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), pp. 111-131;”Territorial Revision and the Holocaust: The Case of Hungary and Slovakia during WWII” in Lessons and Legacies: From Generation to Generation, edited by Doris L. Bergen (Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 2008), pp. 222-244;”Between States: A Research Agenda,” in European Studies Forum (Autumn 2008) 38:2, pp. 113-119;”Navigating Identities: The Jews of Kolozsvár (Cluj) and the Hungarian Administration 1940-1944,” in Osteuropa vom Weltkrieg zur Wende, Wolfgang Mueller und Michael Portmann, eds. (Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akedemie der Wissenschaften, 2007), pp. 39-53;”The Holocaust and the Transylvanian Question in the 20th Century” in The Holocaust in Hungary: Sixty Years Later (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 2006), pp. 17-40.
Awards: Case is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
President’s Council of Cornell Women Affinito-Stewart Faculty Grant for research in Southeastern Europe, 2007;
Pearl Resnick Postdoctoral Fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (12/07-6/08), 2007;
Research fellowship from the East European Studies Program at the Wilson International Center for Scholars (Fall 2007);
Junior Faculty Research Grant from the Institute of European Studies, Cornell University, for research in Bosnia & Herzegovina and Bulgaria, 2006;
Cornell University Dean’s Grant for research trip to the Hoover Archives, Stanford University, 2006;
Cornell University Library Faculty Grant for Digital Collections in the amount of $36,025 to digitize part of CUL’s unique collection on the Polish Solidarity movement of the 1980s for the Integrated History website I created together with James Bjork (won spr. 2005, digitization to be completed by fall 2006, 2005;
Recipient of the Elizabeth Spilman Rosenfield Prize for Outstanding Dissertation Writing awarded by the Department of History at Stanford University, 2004;
Recipient of an American Council of Learned Societies fellowship for dissertation research and write-up, 2003-2004 academic year, 2003;
Recipient of Fulbright-Hays fellowship for dissertation research and write-up, 2003-2004 academic year (declined), 2003;
Recipient of the J. and O. Winter Fund for Holocaust-related research at the USHMM during the winter of 2003, 2002;
Recipient of a United States Holocaust Memorial Museum fellowship for research at the USHMM (2-5/03) on the Jews of Kolozsvár/Cluj during WWII, 2002;
National Security Education Program graduate fellowship for study and research in Cluj, Romania and Budapest, Hungary, 2000;
Center for Russian and East European Studies fellowship for study and research (of Romanian language and inter-war Transylvanian history) at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj, Romania, 1999;
Fulbright Fellowship for study and research (on the subject of the Slovene- and German-language press in areas of the Habsburg Empire inhabited by Slovenes from 1848-51) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, 1997;
Frederick and Elsa Sell Scholarship for junior-year study in Szeged, Hungary, 1995;
National Security Education Program scholarship for summer study in Kraków, Poland, 1995.
Additional Info:
Founded Integrated History website, together with James Bjork (King’s College, London) includes over 80 digitized sources on the history of East-Central Europe for educators, students and scholars. Integrated History

Personal Anecdote

Much of history writing, as I understand it, consists of drawing connections between seemingly unrelated events or phenomena. In that tradition, I will try to explain how growing up in South Dakota prepared me for academia and the study of East-Central European history. As is the case with many East-Central European states and sub-state regions (Slovenia, Slovakia, Slavonia, etc.) not many people are able to differentiate between North and South Dakota. Indeed, I have found that, even shortly after hearing that I am from South Dakota, a new acquaintance will invariably ask me what it was like growing up in North Dakota. To confirm my suspicion that the conflation of the two in the minds of non-Dakotans is complete and indiscriminate, for a time I claimed to be from North Dakota. This control experiment-coupled with the testimonies of North Dakotans I knew-cemented the hypothesis I had drawn from previous encounters: namely that”Dakota” is an undifferentiated, static and monolithic near-void in the global collective consciousness (and perhaps even in reality).

Similarly, it is hardly uncommon for someone (say, a former president of the United States) to confuse Slovenia with Slovakia during a conversation with the prime minister of the former. Despite the resentment that such conflations invariably arouse, there are advantages to being undifferentiated. I met my now-husband thanks to the manner in which the various small Slavic nationalities are commonly conflated. Some years ago I was in my home town of Mitchell, South Dakota (home of the Corn Palace, a Kremlin-like structure the likes of which North Dakota does not-indeed cannot-possess, by virtue of it being the”world’s only”) when a local professor friend said he’d like me to meet a Slovak student of his, and wasn’t it fortunate that I speak Slovak (which I didn’t) so that I could communicate with this young man. It turned out, however, that the young man in question was about as Slovak as I am North Dakotan. In fact he was of an entirely different externally undifferentiated Slavic nationality. It turned out we had a lot in common, and shortly became even less differentiated than we had previously been.


By Holly Case

  • The Transylvanian Question-the struggle between Hungary and Romania for control of Transylvania-seems at first sight a side-show in the story of the Nazi New Order and the Second World War. These two allies of the Third Reich spent
    Between States: The Transylvanian Question and the European Idea during WWII JPGmuch of the war arguing bitterly among themselves over Transylvania’s future, and Europe’s leaders, Germany and Italy, were drawn into their dispute to prevent it from spiraling into a regional war. But precisely as a result of this interaction, the story of the Transylvanian Question offers a new way into the history of the European idea-how state leaders and national elites have interpreted what”Europe” means and what it does. For tucked into the folds of the Transylvanian Question’s bizarre genealogy is a secret that no one ever tried to keep, but that has remained a secret nonetheless: small states matter. The perspective of small states puts the struggle for mastery among its Great Powers into a new and perhaps chastening perspective. In short, when we look closely at what people in small states think and how they behave, the history of twentieth-century Europe looks suddenly very different. — Holly Case in”Between States: The Transylvanian Question and the European Idea during WWII”

About Holly Case

  • “A very original and sophisticated piece of work. . . . Full of new insights and. . . amazing research in a great variety of archives and languages. . . pulled together in a most intelligent way.” — Mark Mazower, Columbia University reviewing”Between States: The Transylvanian Question and the European Idea during WWII”


  • “This will take a rightful place among the really important and interesting works written on East Central Europe in the last forty years. It also figures among the most penetrating and memorable evocations of place written about Europe as a whole. The author is a brilliant, naturally gifted writer, with a keen sense for telling formulation.” — John Connelly, University of California, Berkeley reviewing”Between States: The Transylvanian Question and the European Idea during WWII”
  • “Yugoslav historians have been unwilling to debate the catastrophe that has overtaken Yugoslavia since the late 1980s. This collection edited by Naimark and Case is a welcome exception in which leading practitioners explore ‘images of the past’ as well as key factorss in the unsuccessful struggle of Yugoslavia to exist and renew itself under different social systems. — Slavic and Eastern European Review reviewing”Yugoslavia and Its Historians Understanding the Balkan Wars of the 1990s”
  • “…nearly all of these essays are written, and written carefully and adroitly, by top-drawer scholars…. This is a commendable collection that will have enduring value for specialists and libraries as well as for graduate and even undergraduate students.” — Slavic and East European Journal reviewing”Yugoslavia and Its Historians Understanding the Balkan Wars of the 1990s”
  • “Prof. Case is the best. Knows maybe too much about everything. Great lecturer, and funny too. Highly recommended.”…”V. interesting course, my favorite out of the lot so far. She’s also a great discussion leader.”…”Though her classes her pretty tough, I’ve learned more from Prof. Case than from any other professor at Cornell. She also happens to be extremley nice, and actually pretty cool for a Professor. Moreover, while she puts forth a heavy workload she is generous with her extensions as her sole objective is for you to learn.”…”Professor case is a wonderful professor who really cares about her students. She is a very fair grader who is willing to give extensions as long as you don’t ask her right before something is due. Her class was one of the most challenging I’ve taken but she is extremely bright and makes the material interesting. All in all, an excellent professor.”…”Professor Case is hands down the best professor I’ve had at Cornell. She cares about her students, is innovative in her assignments and is understanding. I genuinely looked forward to going to class. The readings were interesting and the discussions stimulating. She also happens to be insanely intelligent and a very warm hearted woman.”…”Prof Case is an amazing teacher who respects her students and their opinions. She’s extremely understanding and patient, and has a knack for making course material interesting and intellectually-stimulating. A truly inspiring professor.” — Anonymous Students

Posted on Monday, March 9, 2009 at 1:35 AM

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