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Russian and Soviet Jewish Immigrant Experience in Europe, Israel and the United States.

Mon, December 17, 5:00 to 6:30pm, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Waterfront 1 Ballroom
Tue, December 18, 10:15 to 11:45am, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Waterfront 1 Ballroom

Session Submission Type: Seminar


In BEYOND ETHNICITY: CONSENT and DESCENT in AMERICAN CULTURE, Werner Sollors points out that sociologists often resort to works of literature in support of their arguments, while literary scholars shy away from doing the reverse. This interdisciplinary seminar brings together sociologists, historians, folklorists, and literary scholars from Israel, Canada, and the United States to address issues of immigration of Russian and Soviet Jews, and their integration (or lack thereof) into their new societies in Europe, Israel, and the Americas. Topics under consideration are: psychology, sociology and literary expression of the immigrant engagement with the host societies, cultures, and literatures.
Professor Larissa Remennick will discuss "Thirty Years of Russian Jewish Immigrant Experience in Israel and the US: An Intergenerational Perspective." Her paper juxtaposes the integration experiences and civic engagement with the host societies among Russian-Jewish immigrant parents and their children born in the USSR/FSU but socialized in Israel or America (so-called Generation 1.5). Ms. Sanja Ivanov will discuss Gary Shteyngart's LITTLE FAILURE (2014) and Mary Antin's THE PROMISED LAND (1912) to examine the modifications to the forms and functions of classic immigrant autobiographies and their significance for the literary formation of their (Soviet) Jewish American identities. Professor David Shneer will share his research on the wealthy post-Soviet Jews who are now serving as some of the leading funders of global Jewish life and remaking it in a post-Soviet image. His paper is titled, “From Saving Soviet Jews to Being Saved by Them.” Ms. Ashley Walters will discuss “Wedding Patrician America: Americanization and Intermarriage on the Radical Left.” Her paper will focus on a group of early twentieth century Russian Jewish women radicals who married prominent Anglo-American men on the Left, and the fraught relationship between more widely accepted models of Americanization and their revolutionary politics. Professor Maxim D. Shrayer will discuss "The Jewishness of the Third Wave Russian Émigré Literature in America." His talk will deal with the writing by Jewish-Russian immigrants in the 1970s and 1980s. Professor Larissa Fialkova will address the problem of definitions e.g. Russian writer, Russian-language writer, Jewish writer, Israeli (or alternatively, German writer) in general and discuss Dennis Sobolev’s fiction. Her paper is titled, “Immigrant literature between definitions: The case of Dennis Sobolev.” Mr. Baruch Beckerman will address "The multiple marginality of the Russian Soviet Jewish American self in the recent wave of Anglophone fiction by immigrant authors from the USSR/FSU.” His paper locates this body of writing at the intersection of the immigrant and post-immigrant trajectories in Jewish American literature and culture. Finally, professor Gerald Izenberg will bring his expertise in the psychology of the modern self and Eriksonian identity to this seminar. His contribution will amplify and augment our understanding of the immigrant experience of Russian and Soviet Jews.
Discussion of these multifaceted papers in the seminar will facilitate an inter-disciplinary dialog between the literary and social scholars interested in the Russian and Soviet Jewry and its diaspora life in the twentieth and the twenty first centuries.

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