Session Submission Summary

Direct link:

Jewish Women and Autobiographical Acts

Tue, December 18, 12:45 to 2:15pm, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Harborview 2 Ballroom

Session Submission Type: Panel Session

Session Sponsor: Jewish Women's Archive


In her introduction to a special issue of Prooftexts on Jewish American autobiography, Hana Wirth-Nesher notes that the Jewish American autobiographical tradition is defined by the "tension between Adamic self-invention and Jewish origins and destiny. The Jewish-American is moving both toward and away simultaneously." This panel seeks to interrogate, elaborate upon, and challenge this understanding of Jewish American autobiography by considering texts by Jewish women and drawing upon feminist literary scholarship. In the age of #MeToo, women's autobiographical narratives have taken on new urgency amidst growing awareness of the ways that women's voices have been systemically suppressed, "tainted" (in Leigh Gilmore's term) by the construction of women as unreliable witnesses to their own lives. Traversing different time periods, as well as national and linguistic borders, and focusing on various forms (from published and unpublished memoirs to poetry, correspondence, and comics), the four papers on this panel locate Jewish women's autobiographical acts at the center of discussions about American history and identity, modernism, space and place, religion, sex, grief, power, and language.

Each panelist will speak for 12-15 minutes followed by discussion and Q&A with the audience. The session will be chaired by Jennifer Sartori, editor of the Jewish Women Archive's Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women.

Sub Unit


Individual Presentations