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New Approaches to the Yiddish Press in the Americas

Mon, December 18, 10:30am to 12:00pm, Marriott Marquis Washington, DC, Gallaudet University Room

Session Submission Type: Panel Session


This panel offers new approaches to the study of the Yiddish press in the twentieth century Americas. The three presenters examine the interconnections between literature and journalism in twentieth century Yiddish newspapers in the United States and Brazil, interrogate how and why stories were told, and assess the broader social and political functions of the Yiddish press. Ayelet Brinn’s paper will explore the role of advice columns in American Yiddish newspapers such as Forverts and Der Tog from the turn of the twentieth century through the 1920s. Jessica Kirzane will examine Miriam Karpilov’s novel Togbukh fun an elende meydl, serialized in the newspaper Di Varhayt between 1915 and 1918, and will situate the novel within the newspaper’s coverage of issues of free love and birth control during the years of the novel’s serialization. Michael Rom will discuss the role of political satire in the newspaper Cold War between Zionists and Jewish Communists in the Brazilian Yiddish press of the 1950s, and the way that political satire was employed as a potent weapon in the political conflict over Brazilian Jewish communal hegemony. Each of these papers re-centers portions of the newspaper (advice, fiction, satire) traditionally examined as separate from the journalistic function of newspapers, suggesting that these modes of writing were not ‘merely’ for the sake of entertainment but were important components
of the political, economic, and communal functions of newspapers. By offering a hemispheric approach that spans multiple newspapers, countries, and time periods, this panel will suggest new insights in the role of literature in the Yiddish press, the business of journalism and fiction, the porous boundaries between literary and journalistic modes and genres of writing, and the social and political landscape of Jewish immigrant communities in the Western Hemisphere during the twentieth century.

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