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.