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Afterlives of a Zadik: Hasidic Writing and its Lingering Effects on Modern Jewish Literature

Mon, December 18, 8:15 to 10:00am, Marriott Marquis Washington, DC, Marquis Salon 2
Tue, December 19, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Marriott Marquis Washington, DC, Marquis Salon 2

Session Submission Type: Seminar


Within standard historiography of modern Jewish literature, the role of Hasidic literature as shared referent for Haskalah and "modern" literature has not received its due attention. A comprehensive account of Jewish literary modernity, its aesthetic and ideological aspirations, is not possible without recognizing the role played by Hasidic literature. The defining themes of Jewish literary modernity, both ideologically and aesthetically are, in important and unrecognized senses, afterlives of a textual-political-aesthetic moment that found its expression in Hasidic writing. This seminar explores the imprint of Hasidic writing on Jewish literary production, from early 18th century to the present.

Ken Frieden’s “Nathan Sternharz’s Hebrew Pilgrimage Narratives in Literary History” discusses the contribution of Sternharz’s writing in the first half of the 19th century to the modern genre of travel narratives in Hebrew and Yiddish.

Eli Rubin’s “From Likqquṭei Torah to Ḥayim Gravitser: Literary Intertextuality in Habad Hasidism” discusses effects of R. Menachem Mendel Schneersohn’s writing on Gravitser’s novelistic production.

Rose Waldman’s “The Evolution of Hasidic Writing over the Last Century” traces the evolution of the Hasidic/Enlightened relationship, from early works of modern belles-lettres to contemporary media.

Sam Berrin Shonkoff’s “Holy Deeds: Martin Buber’s Ḥasidic Tales as Performative Liturgy” discusses Buber’s shifting attitude toward Hasidism between early and mid-20th century writings, and Buber’s understanding of Hasidic tales as performative media.

Orel Sharp’s “‘The Holy Letter’ of the Besht and Brenner's ‘Around the point’: Hasidut, Messianism and Intertextuality” discusses the many intertextual ties Brenner’s early 20th century work maintains with Hasidic writing.

Yitzhak Lewis’s “A Man of Israel among the Nations: Rabbi Nachman’s imprint on Modern Jewish Literature” discusses R. Nachman’s early 19th century contribution to the evolution of modern Jewish literary problematics.

Hannan Hever’s “Agnon and the Political Theology of the Hasidic Book” traces the political theology of the Hassidic book as a commodity in Agnon’s collection Books of the Righteous.

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