Category Archives: News

Fifth event of the Astaire Seminar Series in Jewish Studies ‘Jews, movement, migration, location’, 11 July 2017, University of Edinburgh

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

Time: 3:30-5pm

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.

Fourth event of the Astaire Seminar Series in Jewish Studies ‘Jews, movement, migration, location’, 9 May 2017, Durham University

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.

Third event of the Astaire Seminar Series in Jewish Studies ‘Jews, movement, migration, location’, 26 April 2017, University of St Andrews

Co-sponsored by USTC and the School of History

Venue: Old Class Library, School of History, 69 South Street, St Andrews
Time: 2-4pm

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.

Second event of the Astaire Seminar Series in Jewish Studies ‘Jews, movement, migration, location’, 21 March 2017, University of Manchester

Venue: A113 Samuel Alexander Building, University of Manchester
Time: 5-7pm

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.

Announcing the Astaire Seminar Series in Jewish Studies 2016/17:’Jews: movement, migration, location’

The Astaire Seminar Series 2016/17 is organised between the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews, Durham and Manchester. Events are free and open to all. If you are planning to attend any of these seminars please contact the local organiser for details regarding venue and timing. The address is in the link for each location.

15 December 2016, University of Glasgow
Venue:  Lecture Theatre A, Boyd Orr Building, University Avenue, Glasgow
Time: 5-7pm

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

This event is part of the Mysticism in Comparative Perspective Conference

21 March 2017, University of Manchester
Venue: A113 Samuel Alexander Building, University of Manchester
Time: 5-7pm

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

26 April 2017, University of St Andrews
Venue: Old Class Library, School of History, 69 South Street, St Andrews
Time: 2-4pm

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

This event is co-sponsored by USTC and the School of History

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

11 July 2017, University of Edinburgh
Hana Wirth-Nesher (University of Tel Aviv), To Move, to Translate, To Write: Jewish American Immigrant Voices

This event is a keynote lecture at the British Association for Jewish Studies Annual Conference.

Conference season

This week I had the privilege of participating in the British Association for Holocaust Studies (BAHS) 2nd conference hosted by this year’s president Isabel Wollaston at the University of Birmingham. There is some dispute whether to count the ‘founding conference’ of the organisation in Southampton in 2013 as the first, rather than last year’s official ‘first’ conference in Edinburgh. This probably just goes to show that new organisations need a narrative mystifying their origins in some way already at the very beginning of their history. The theme of this year’s conference was Another Time, Another Place? Challenges in Commemorating, Teaching and Researching the Holocaust 70 Years On. Setting the tone for a range of good quality papers was the first keynote lecture by the remarkable Caroline Sturdy Colls from the University of Staffordshire. In ‘What Lies Beneath? Forensic archaeological approaches to Treblinka’, she spoke about her groundbreaking research on Treblinka and the fascinating insights into the history of the death camp generated by an interdisciplinary approach which served both to generate and interpret the archaeological findings. The second keynote of the day was given by Rochelle Saidel, a pioneering researcher on women and the Holocaust and founder of Remember the Women. Her lecture ‘Giving women their place in Holocaust history’ was a retrospective on Saidel’s work, offering a valuable insight into the history of research on women and the Holocaust in the English-speaking world. Both keynotes tallied well with papers in other conference sessions, particularly that of Gilly Carr on her research in the Channel Islands (‘Breaking the last taboo? Addressing the Holocaust in the Channel Islands’); and Caroline Sharples’ exploration of the politics surrounding the burial and remembrance of perpetrators in the German town of Hameln (‘What do you do with a dead Nazi? Commemorating Holocaust perpetrators and victims since 1945′). Similarly, Zoë Waxman’s paper on the historical and conceptual framing of research on sexual violence during the Holocaust, placed rape and other violence directed specifically at women in the context of research on genocides in which such actions were used as a form of assault explicitly linked to the genocidal aim, such as in Rwanda and Bosnia (‘An exceptional genocide? Sexual violence in the Holocaust’). And Karen Skinazi’s research on Satmar constructions of post-Holocaust group identity through reproduction connected with another perspective on the female body (‘“… That their seed would not die out”: I am Forbidden and Unorthodox, stories of Satmar women’s biological imperative in the aftermath of the Holocaust’). Sadly, it was neither possible to listen to all papers, nor is it practical to summarise here all the excellent contributions I was able to hear. Thus a link to the conference programme must suffice. Other highlights, for me, were the enthusiasm of postgraduate participants in the conference for developing a new postgraduate research network in Holocaust Studies; and the successful (and probably unique) integration of scholarship with education research and practice pioneered at BAHS conferences. The energy postgraduate students exhibit, and the collaboration between researchers and educators is promising for the future development of the BAHS. Next year’s BAHS conference will take place in Sheffield with Sue Vice as president.

Birmingham holds many memories for me, having studied for my PhD here in the 1990s. It was a treat to meet up with old friends whose careers had taken them to various destinations in the Midlands, and see the transformations of the city centre and the university campus. Birmingham’s city planners are bold and not afraid of radical changes to the city’s layout, as demonstrated by the new Bullring and Birmingham New Street Station which are daring, impressive and imposing pieces of urban architecture. Campus felt surprisingly timeless and simultaneously transformed, sporting a number of new and renovated buildings, as well as artworks amidst the charms of unrevised 1960s architecture. I look forward to another trip combining intellectual nourishment with visiting friends and seeing the city , most likely next summer when the British Association for Jewish Studies will hold its annual conference at the University of Birmingham with Charlotte Hempel as president.