Keith Pickus was born in Los Angeles, California, where he completed his K-12 education in the L.A. public school system. Professor Pickus earned a Bachelor of Arts in History with Honors from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1983 and, during his senior year, he studied German language and history at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Pickus was awarded a Master of Arts in modern German History from the University of Washington in 1988; he received an "Inter-Israeli University Fellowship," to attend the Hebrew University in Jerusalem during the 1988-89 academic year, and he completed his doctoral program in modern European Jewish History at the University of Washington in June, 1993. His doctoral dissertation focused on the topic of Jewish identity in 19th century Germany, a project that required him to conduct research in Israel, Germany and New York.
Keith Pickus' professional academic career began in 1991 as a lecturer in modern European, German and Jewish History at the University of Washington. During the 1994-95 academic year he was a visiting assistant professor at Montana State University, and he assumed a tenure-track position in the History Department at Wichita State University in 1995. Pickus was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor in the fall, 2001. His formal administrative career began in 2000 when he took on the role of Graduate Program Coordinator for the History department. He served as the Associate Dean for the Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (2001-07) and the Associate Provost for Strategic Planning and Operations (2007-2011). Pickus was named Interim Provost in June, 2011.
Keith Pickus is the sole author of two books and a contributing author to a third. He has published nine scholarly essays, eleven book reviews and he has made numerous conference and public presentations.
He is married to Deirdre O'Farrell, and they have three children, Maeve, Lila and Claire.
Our Only Hope: Eddie’s Holocaust Story and the Weisz Family
Our Only Hope is based on correspondence between Eddie Weisz, a German Jew who emigrated to the U.S. in 1938, and his family (father, mother, and brother), who remained behind, first in Berlin and then Prague. Like many German Jewish families, Eddie’s parents sent their eldest child to America hoping that he could pave the way for the rest of the family to follow.
The story is a deeply personal account of how the Nazi phenomenon affected this family. It gives voice to the victims of the Holocaust, people whose experiences are typically told through the eyes of survivors and perpetrators. Through this narrative, Our Only Hope illuminates an ironic and tragic dualism: the steady deterioration of life’s circumstances for the Weisz family that is left behind, countered by the transformation of Eddie Weisz into an independent adult and American citizen.
Constructing Modern Identities: Jewish University Students in Germany, 1815-1914
Educated as Germans and raised with great social and professional expectations, Jewish university students in the nineteenth century were forced to reconcile their German and Jewish heritages. For most of the century, the majority of German Jews privatized their Jewishness to avoid conflicts with societal expectations. The emergence of Jewish student associations in 1881 provided a forum for Jews to openly proclaim their religious heritage. Keith Pickus tells how these groups made public expressions of Jewishness that would have shocked previous generations; yet, at the same time, the organizations were patterned on German models that enabled members to function within the university environment. He also reveals how Jewish students who did not participate in such organizations sublimated their Jewishness in favor of other concerns and established public identities that were virtually indistinguishable from those of Gentile students.
By examining the lives and social dynamics of Jewish university students, Pickus shows how German Jews rearranged their self-images and redefined what it meant to be Jewish. Not only did the identities crafted by these students, argues Pickus, enable them to actively participate in German society, they also left an indelible imprint on contemporary Jewish culture.