Jewish culture places a great deal of emphasis on texts and their means of transmission. At various points in Jewish history, the primary mode of transmission has changed in response to political, geographical, technological, and cultural shifts. Contemporary textual transmission in Jewish culture has been influenced by secularization, the return to Hebrew and the emergence of modern Yiddish, and the new centers of Jewish life in the United States and in Israel, as well as by advancements in print technology and the invention of the Internet. Volume XXXI of Studies in Contemporary Jewry deals with various aspects of textual transmission in Jewish culture in the last two centuries. Essays in this volume examine old and new kinds of media and their meanings; new modes of transmission in fields such as Jewish music; and the struggle to continue transmitting texts under difficult political circumstances. Two essays analyze textual transmission in the works of giants of modern Jewish literature: S.Y. Agnon, in Hebrew, and Isaac Bashevis Singer, in Yiddish. Other essays discuss paratexts in the East, print cultures in the West, and the organization of knowledge in libraries and encyclopedias.
This important study is the first to offer a sustained look at a variety of early modern Yiddish masterworks--and their writers and readers--paying particular attention to their treatment of supernatural themes and beings.
The Writer Uprooted is the first book to examine the emergence of a new generation of Jewish immigrant authors in America, most of whom grew up in formerly communist countries. In essays that are both personal and scholarly, the contributors to this collection chronicle and clarify issues of personal and cultural dislocation and loss, but also affirm the possibilities of reorientation and renewal. Writers, poets, translators, and critics such as Matei Calinescu, Morris Dickstein, Henryk Grynberg, Geoffrey Hartman, Eva Hoffman, Katarzyna Jerzak, Dov-Ber Kerler, Norman Manea, Zsuzsanna Ozsvath, Lara Vapnyar, and Bronislava Volkova describe how they have coped creatively with the trials of displacement and the challenges and opportunities of resettlement in a new land and, for some, authorship in a new language.
With contributions from a dozen American and European scholars, this volume presents an overview of Jewish writing in post--World War II Europe. Striking a balance between close readings of individual texts and general surveys of larger movements and underlying themes, the essays portray Jewish authors across Europe as writers and intellectuals of multiple affiliations and hybrid identities. Aimed at a general readership and guided by the idea of constructing bridges across national cultures, this book maps for English-speaking readers the productivity and diversity of Jewish writers and writing that has marked a revitalization of Jewish culture in France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Hungary, Poland, and Russia.
Benjamin Schreier argues that Jewish American literature's dominant cliché of "breakthrough"—that is, the irruption into the heart of the American cultural scene during the 1950s of Jewish American writers like Bernard Malamud, Philip Roth, Saul Bellow, and Grace Paley—must also be seen as the critically originary moment of Jewish American literary study. According to Schreier, this is the primal scene of the Jewish American literary field, the point that the field cannot avoid repeating and replaying in instantiating itself as the more or less formalized academic study of Jewish American literature. More than sixty years later, the field's legibility, the very condition of its possibility, remains overwhelmingly grounded in a reliance on this single ethnological narrative. In a polemic against what he sees as the unexamined foundations and stagnant state of the field, Schreier interrogates a series of professionally powerful assumptions about Jewish American literary history—how they came into being and how they hardened into cliché. He offers a critical genealogy of breakthrough and other narratives through which Jewish Studies has asserted its compelling self-evidence, not simply under the banner of the historical realities Jewish Studies claims to represent but more fundamentally for the intellectual and institutional structures through which it produces these representations. He shows how a historicist scholarly narrative quickly consolidated and became hegemonic, in part because of its double articulation of a particular American subject and of a transnational historiography that categorically identified that subject as Jewish. The ethnological grounding of the Jewish American literary field is no longer tenable, Schreier asserts, in an argument with broad implications for the reconceptualization of Jewish and other identity-based ethnic studies.
In Yiddish Writers in Weimar Berlin, Marc Caplan explores the reciprocal encounter between Eastern European Jews and German culture in the days following World War I. By concentrating primarily on a small group of avant-garde Yiddish writers—Dovid Bergelson, Der Nister, and Moyshe Kulbak—working in Berlin during the Weimar Republic, Caplan examines how these writers became central to modernist aesthetics. By concentrating on the character of Yiddish literature produced in Weimar Germany, Caplan offers a new method of seeing how artistic creation is constructed and a new understanding of the political resonances that result from it. Yiddish Writers in Weimar Berlin reveals how Yiddish literature participated in the culture of Weimar-era modernism, how active Yiddish writers were in the literary scene, and how German-speaking Jews read descriptions of Yiddish-speaking Jews to uncover the emotional complexity of what they managed to create even in the midst of their confusion and ambivalence in Germany. Caplan's masterful narrative affords new insights into literary form, Jewish culture, and the philosophical and psychological motivations for aesthetic modernism.
Alyssa Quint focuses on the early years of the modern Yiddish theater, from roughly 1876 to 1883, through the works of one of its best-known and most colorful figures, Avrom Goldfaden. Goldfaden (né Goldenfaden, 1840-1908) was one of the first playwrights to stage a commercially viable Yiddish-language theater, first in Romania and then in Russia. Goldfaden’s work was rapidly disseminated in print and his plays were performed frequently for Jewish audiences. Sholem Aleichem considered him as a forger of a new language that "breathed the European spirit into our old jargon." Quint uses Goldfaden’s theatrical works as a way to understand the social life of Jewish theater in Imperial Russia. Through a study of his libretti, she looks at the experiences of Russian Jewish actors, male and female, to explore connections between culture as artistic production and culture in the sense of broader social structures. Quint explores how Jewish actors who played Goldfaden’s work on stage absorbed the theater into their everyday lives. Goldfaden’s theater gives a rich view into the conduct, ideology, religion, and politics of Jews during an important moment in the history of late Imperial Russia.
Volume XII: Literary Strategies: Jewish Texts and Contexts
Author: Ezra Mendelsohn
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Literary Strategies: Jewish Texts and Contexts collects essays on Jewish literature which deal with "the manifold ways that literary texts reveal their authors' attitudes toward their own Jewish identity and toward diverse aspects of the 'Jewish question.'" Essays in this volume explore the tension between Israeli and Diaspora identities, and between those who write in Hebrew or Yiddish and those who write in other "non-Jewish" languages. The essays also explore the question of how Jewish writers remember history in their "search for a useable past." From essays on Jabotinsky's virtually unknown plays to Philip Roth's novels, this book provides a strong overview of contemporary themes in Jewish literary studies.
Argues that Jewish writers used depictions of Jews as animals to question prevalent notions of Jewish identity. The Infrahuman explores a little-known aspect in major works of Jewish literature from the period preceding World War II, in which Jewish writers in German, Hebrew, and Yiddish employed figures of animals in pejorative depictions of Jews and Jewish identity. Such depictions are disturbing because they sometimes rival common anti-Semitic stereotypes, and have often been explained away as symptoms of Jewish self-hatred. In this book, Noam Pines shows how animality emerged in Jewish literature not as a biological or conceptual category, but as a theological figure of exclusion from a state of humanity and Christianity alike. By framing the human-animal question in theological terms rather than in racial-biological terms, writers such as Heinrich Heine, S. Y. Abramovitsh, Hayim Nachman Bialik, Uri Zvi Greenberg, Franz Kafka, S. Y. Agnon, and Paul Celan subjected the pejorative designations of Jewish identity to literary elaboration and to philosophical negotiation. A work of stunning originality. Noam Pines revisits texts across the expanse of European and modern Jewish culture, excavating a preoccupation with Jewish animality that is no less illuminating than it is unsettling. Steven J. Zipperstein, author of Pogrom: Kishinev and the Tilt of History In this scrupulous and subtle book, Noam Pines shines new light on how animality, a well-worn theological figure of exclusion, can be seen afresh as a leitmotif of the intimate dialogue Jewish writers conducted with European literary traditions. With an exceptionally sure touch, Pines tracks this motif from Zionist literature through the postwar responses to Kafkas legacy. The Infrahuman is a profound and highly commendable achievement. Vivian Liska, author of When Kafka Says We: Uncommon Communities in German-Jewish Literature and German-Jewish Thought and Its Afterlife: A Tenuous Legacy The Infrahuman starts readers on an important journey from a place where we construct identities out of the cultural material that we would invent if that material had not already been provided: dichotomies (animal/human, Christian/Jew), other forms, images, things. Piness powerful readings of Heine, Abramovitsh, Bialik, Greenberg, Kafka, Agnon, and Celan may not teach us how to remember other alternatives, but they do call us to be attentive to the identificatory incapacities that have helped us forget how to live. David Metzger, coeditor of Chasing Esther: Jewish Expressions of Cultural Difference