Part of the British Association for Jewish Studies Conference 2017 at the University of Edinburgh
Venue: Elizabeth Templeton Room, School of Divinity, New College, Edinburgh
Hana Wirth-Nesher (Tel Aviv University),To move, to translate, to write: Jewish American immigrant voices
Hana Wirth-Nesher is Professor of English and American Studies at Tel Aviv University where she holds the Samuel L. and Perry Haber Chair on the Study of the Jewish Experience in the United States. She is also the founding Director of the Goldreich Institute for Yiddish Language, Literature, and Culture at Tel Aviv University. Her main areas of research are modern American and British literature, multilingual American fiction, Jewish American writing, and urban literature. Educated at the University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Columbia University (MA, MPhil, PhD), Hana began her academic career at Lafayette College in 1976 before moving to Tel Aviv University in 1982. She is the author of two monographs Call It English: The Languages of Jewish American Literature, Princeton University Press, 2009; and City Codes: Reading the modern urban novel, Cambridge University Press, 1996, and numerous articles. Recently she edited The Cambridge History of Jewish American Literature, Cambridge University Press, 2015; and with Michael P. Kramer The Cambridge Companion to Jewish- American Literature, Cambridge University Press, 2003.
An immigrant’s geographical journey is followed by a linguistic and cultural one, where translation both to and from the mother tongue and culture becomes a daily preoccupation. Since not every word or concept is translatable, immigrant writers are often drawn to untranslatabilty, which they dramatize as moments of estrangement. This lecture will examine the significance of diverse forms of the untranslatable in the works of Jewish immigrant writers who wrote both in English and in Yiddish, among them Isaac Raboy, Lamed Shapiro, Mary Antin, Henry Roth, and Isaac Bashevis Singer.
9 May 2017, University of Durham
Elad Lapidot (Freie Universität Berlin), Deterritorialized Immigrant: The Talmudic Ger as a Cross-Border Figure
Ilan Baron (University of Durham), The International Cultural Politics of Israeli Cuisine
Elad Lapidot Ger is a non-Jew who becomes a Jew – a convert or more literality a proselyte, a new-comer. As such, the ger is a Jewish cross-border figure, the immigrant. In my talk I will reflect on the cross-border performance of the ger in the basic rabbinic text, the Talmud. Through several readings, I will look at ways in which the ger opens up inside the Talmudic texture a space of reflection on the borders – and core – of the rabbinic socio-political project, i.e. ‘Israel’. The immigrant ger, initially an outsider, will be unveiled as a paradigm of the rabbinic subject. The guiding question will concern the nature of the space in which the cross-border event of the ger takes place, namely the topo-logy of rabbinic Israel. The basic observation will be the shift from the highly territorial narrative of the biblical text to deterritorialized Talmud. The Talmudic ger will emerge as a pivotal figure for thinking borders, immigration and place in conditions of deterritorialization.
Ilan Baron In the past four years, at least sixteen Israeli cookbooks have been published in English. By itself, this is not an especially interesting number, but considering that prior to 2012 I have been able to identity only ten English-language Israeli cookbooks (excluding local community cookbooks with “Israeli” recipes), this increase provides an opportunity to explore the international cultural politics of the Jewish State. The cookbooks reflect the movements and migrations of Jews, of the various locations that have come to contribute to Jewish culture and which are manifest in the diverse array of foods that in these books have come to be described as “Israeli”. This article explores the narratives produced in these Israeli cookbooks, suggesting that they provide a particular normative story about Israel’s history, identity, and values that is of relevance both for the Israelization of Diaspora Jewish identity and for how the idea of Israel is (re)produced as a cultural good for international consumption. Using contemporary political theory, and building on the hermeneutic and phenomenological traditions in continental philosophy, this articles provides a critique of the normative narratives produced in these cookbooks.
Co-sponsored by USTC and the School of History
Venue: Old Class Library, School of History, 69 South Street, St Andrews
Adam Shear (University of Pittsburgh), Jews and their Books on the Move in Early Modern Europe
Emily Finer (University of St Andrews), Jewish Migration and Metamorphosis in Early Soviet Fiction
Adam Shear is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and History and Director of the Program in Jewish Studies at the University of Pittsburgh where he has taught since 2001. His 2008 book The Kuzari and the Shaping of Jewish Identity, 1167-1900 (Cambridge University Press) was awarded a National Jewish Book Award for Scholarship and the Morris D. Forkosch Prize from the Journal of the History of Ideas for the best first book in intellectual history.
The early modern period in European and Mediterranean history is often seen as a period of increased mobility of people. The rise of print is also seen as a distinctive element of early modernity. In Jewish history, these two factors have been cited by many historians as key aspects of the early modern Jewish experience, most recently by David Ruderman in his Early Modern Jewry: A New Cultural History (Princeton, 2011). Although historians of migration and historians of the book have paid due diligence to the relationships between the two factors, this talk will more explicitly analyze the ways in which movement of Jewish books are linked to the mobility patterns of early modern Jews. In addition to looking at the pre-publication sharing of texts in new environments, the paper also considers the dissemination of books after publication and over time. The goal is to better understand how the history of migration is linked to the history of the book and how new tools in each subfield can complement knowledge in the other.
Emily Finer is Lecturer in Comparative Literature and Russian at the University of St Andrews where she convened the new degree in Comparative Literature. She is currently working on a second monograph exploring the vast cultural reception of Charles Dickens and his works in the Russian-speaking world. This project follows her monograph on the twisty relationship between the Russian Formalist, Viktor Shklovskii and the author of Tristram Shandy, Laurence Sterne: Turning into Sterne: Viktor Shklovskii and Literary Reception (Oxford: Legenda, 2010).
For a few years after the 1917 Revolution, Russian-Jewish writers felt empowered to explore issues of identity in print. Lev Lunts, a young writer who resisted his parents’ pleas to join them in emigration, chose instead to imagine a journey west in Crossing the Border (1922). His Jewish characters employ a range of linguistic and visual disguises which are ultimately unsuccessful. In Homeland (1923), Lunts’s atheist student goes through a door under the Choral Synagogue in Petersburg only to find himself in biblical Babylon. These and the similar stories to be discussed all end with the restoration of the status quo, but their writers test the limits of comedy and satire through their use of anti-Semitic stereotypes, making peculiar demands on the contemporary reader.
Venue: A113 Samuel Alexander Building, University of Manchester
Sander Gilman (Emory University), Jews as Exiles and their Representations after 1933
Cathy Gelbin (University of Manchester), German Jews and the Cosmopolitan Ideal in Exile from National Socialism
Sander Gilman is a distinguished professor of the Liberal Arts and Sciences as well as Professor of Psychiatry at Emory University. A cultural and literary historian, he is the author or editor of over eighty books. His Obesity: The Biography appeared with Oxford University Press in 2010; his most recent edited volume, The Third Reich Sourcebook (with Anson Rabinbach) was published with the University of California Press in 2013, He is the author of the basic study of the visual stereotyping of the mentally ill, Seeing the Insane, published by John Wiley and Sons in 1982 (reprinted: 1996) as well as the standard study of Jewish Self-Hatred, the title of his Johns Hopkins University Press monograph of 1986.
In our age when the meanings associated with ‘exile’ and ‘asylum’ are radically shifting, it is valuable to examine how those not directly impacted came to understand such a political alteration after 1933. The transformation of European cosmopolitan intellectuals, at home in the world but also confortable with their role in high German culture, into exiles and asylum seekers was sudden and often unpleasant. By late January 1933, such cosmopolitans, especially those publically identified as Jews or ‘political’ (or both) began to see their status changing, even prior to the introduction of punitive laws under the new Nazi state. I shall examine two cases of how these exiles were seen by non-Jews in radically different political spaces: Thomas Mann in exile writing his Joseph novels and Martin Heidegger, suddenly placed in a position of leadership in the new Nazi state, commenting in his ‘Black’ notebooks about Jews. I shall also think about what such positions mean for ‘Others,’ Jews and Germans (or both) in our age of the demonization of exiles and asylum seekers.
Cathy Gelbin is a Senior Lecturer in German Studies at the University of Manchester. She specializes in German-Jewish culture, Holocaust Studies, gender and film. She is co-editor of the Oxford journal Leo Baeck Institute Year Book for the Study of German-Jewish History and Culture and serves on the Board of Directors and Trustees of the Leo Baeck Institute London, as well as on the selection committee of Studienstiftung’s international Leo Baeck Fellowship Programme in German-Jewish Studies. Recent publications include The Golem Returns: From German Romantic Literature to Global Jewish Culture (2011) and Jewish Culture in the Age of Globalization (2014, co-ed. with Sander L. Gilman).
The brief period between the two world wars saw concerted efforts by liberal and leftist-leaning German and Austrian Jewish writers to promote the cosmopolitan ideal. For a little over a century, the cosmopolitan dream of a united Europe had been nascent among Christian and Jewish intellectuals in the German-speaking realm. Following the nationalist disaster of World War I and the rise of antisemitism throughout the 1920s, the cosmopolitanist project assumed particular urgency for Jewish intellectuals. My talk examines the changes in cosmopolitanist attitudes that exile from National Socialism effected among German-Jewish writers and intellectuals, including Joseph Roth, Stefan Zweig and Lion Feuchtwanger.
All welcome. Questions about the event should be addressed to Dr George R. Wilkes, Director of the Project on Religion and Ethics in the Making of War and Peace, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speakers will include:
George Pattison (Glasgow): Buber’s translator, Ronald Gregor Smith
Yaser Mirdamadi (Edinburgh): Buber in post-revolutionary Iran: when “it” turns “you”
Ellen Zhang (Hong Kong Baptist University): Buber’s dialogical mode of I-Thou in the light of Zhuangzi’s Daoist philosophy.
Christine Kupfer (Scottish Tagore Institute): The relationship between Tagore and Martin Buber
Venue: Lecture Theatre A, Boyd Orr Building, University Avenue, Glasgow
Ada Rapoport Albert (UCL), From Russia to Poland: Interwar Habad Hasidism in Exile
Mia Spiro (University of Glasgow), The Dybbuk’s Haunted Stage: Performing Jewish Mysticism in the Aftermath of the Holocaust
Part of the Mysticism in Comparative Perspective Conference
Ada Rapoport-Albert is Professor emerita of Jewish Studies and former Head of Hebrew and Jewish UCL. She is a historian of the Jewish mystical tradition, with special interest in Hasidism, the messianic movement of Sabbatai Zevi, ascetic practice in a variety of pietistic circles, and gender issues in reference to all the above topics. Her publications include Women and the Messianic Heresy of Sabbatai Zevi 1666-1816 (2011) and, in Hebrew,Studies in Hasidism, Sabbatianism, and Gender (2015).
The paper focuses on a crucial turning point in the history of the Habad-Lubavitch school of Hasidism, when its leader, the 6th Rebbe, Joseph Isaac Schneersohn (1880-1950), fled his native Russia, where religious observance was vigorously suppressed by the Communist authorities, and established his headquarters (‘court’) in the then free Second Republic of Poland, having left behind the bulk of his traditionally large hasidic following, now effectively trapped in the Soviet Union. The strategies he adopted during this period for transplanting the distinctive Habad brand of Hasidism in an alien Jewish environment, densely populated by rival, indigenously Polish Hasidic ‘courts’, laid the foundations for every radical innovation, which was to secure Habad’s post-war survival and its transformation into a highly visible, international outreach movement.
Mia Spiro is Lecturer in Jewish Studies at the School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow. She is the author of Anti-Nazi Modernism: The Challenges of Resistance in 1930s Fiction (Northwestern UP, 2013) and has published several articles on Jewish representation in literature and film in the period leading up to WWII and the Holocaust. She is currently working on a project, entitled ‘Monsters and Migration: Golems, Vampires, and the Ghosts of War’, which examines how elements of the supernatural have been used by modern writers and artists to grapple with oppression, migration, and antisemitism in the first half of the twentieth century.
In the preface to his play script, The Dybbuk (1914), a tale of a young bride possessed by the spirit of her dead beloved, S. Ansky writes: “throughout the play there is a battle between… the individual’s striving for happiness and the survival of the nation.” Thus Ansky, an ethnographer and historian who set out to recapture the already disappearing culture of the Jewish shtetl, reinvented in the Jewish imagination in what is surely Jewish theatre’s most popular theatrical production (over 2000 performances to date). This talk will explore how the idea of the “dybbuk” — the possessing spirit — transforms on stage and screen in the years leading up to WWII and in 1948-1954 productions in Glasgow, New York and Paris, as Jewish communities grapple with the haunting and very “undead” spirit of a Jewish cultural life on the wake of the Shoah.