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Yiddish Studies Beyond Borders

Sun, December 17, 3:00 to 4:30pm, Marriott Marquis Washington, DC, Gallaudet University Room

Session Submission Type: Roundtable


This roundtable begins from a paradoxical position: we propose an English-language discussion to take place in the US that explores the breadth of the field of Yiddish Studies beyond the contexts and conventions that currently dominate it—which of course include the English language and US universities.

Yiddish is a global language, and Yiddish scholars today work in a diverse array of countries, languages, and disciplines. And yet very particular configurations of this global network dominate the field, at least as viewed from the AJS: English is the most common language of scholarship, the majority of works in Yiddish Studies concern the study of literature written between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the underlying ideological orientation of the field is often a concern for Jewish identity.

This roundtable offers a chance to discuss Yiddish Studies beyond these borders--a Yiddish Studies not limited to a single language, country, discipline, or identitarian motivation. We will explore some of the many loci of activity in the field deserving of more attention: scholarship published in French, German, Russian, and Polish; work on the Early Modern period, the postwar period, and in Anthropology; a Yiddish Studies beyond the limits of Jewish identity studies. Roundtable participants will share their perspectives working in underrepresented areas of the field or in languages other than English, and reflect on the areas of activity and productivity in their discipline and language, as well as on the relationship of their work, discipline, or language to Yiddish Studies broadly understood.

Engaging with the diversity of Yiddish as a language, culture, and scholarly field feels especially urgent in this time when talk is on the rise of closing borders, building walls, and reifying the false divisions between so-called “aliens” and English-speaking American citizens. This conversation has grown out of the efforts of IN GEVEB to represent the broadest possible definition of the field of Yiddish Studies in what we publish.

This discussion is organized by IN GEVEB: A Journal of Yiddish Studies

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