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Shifting Boundaries: Jewish Literatures

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

Session Submission Type: Roundtable


At the AJS and in many academic institutions, the study of Jewish literatures is spread across a variety of divisions, departments and disciplines, often hewing to national boundaries. This roundtable will interrogate the boundaries of Jewish literatures and consider the impact of changing comparative, theoretical and analytical paradigms.

Questions that the roundtable will consider: How do existing boundaries impact the writing, production and study of Jewish literatures? What is at stake when we challenge the boundaries of Jewish literatures? What is gained? Does new literary scholarship differ from past scholarship in substantive ways? How do you envision the future of Jewish literatures? How might an changing sense of Jewish literatures impact Jewish Studies? While these are broad questions, discussants will ground their remarks in specific case studies drawn from their own research. Our goal is to bring Jewish literatures into broader global conversations and expose intersections that invigorate and enhance our understanding of these works.

Each of the discussants will engage with Jewish literature from different linguistic, geographic or theoretical vantage points. Karen Grumberg will consider Hebrew literary comparison beyond contiguity: that is, from textual traditions and languages like Anglophone gothic and Norwegian modernism that are not typically associated with Hebrew literature to probe the boundary of “legitimate comparison.” Lia Brozgal will focus on French Judeo-Maghrebi literature to rethink questions of modernity, canon formation, translation, and the category of “world literature.” Ranen Omer-Sherman will discuss teaching utopia in an era of increasing anxiety about “dystopias,” focusing on the vital role of the redemption of time and space in the prophetic imagination and modern Jewish writing. Naomi Brenner will examine how institutional power wielded by publishing houses, newspapers and universities impacts the production and reception of multilingual Jewish texts. Zohar Weiman-Kelman will turn to queer theory's visions of corporality and temporality to expose the concrete stakes of rethinking the power dynamics of Jewish literary history through the work of two Yiddish poets, Anna Margolin and Irena Klepfisz. Meri-Jane Rochelson, who specializes in Anglo-Jewish literature, will moderate the roundtable and contribute her perspectives on immigration, gender and global Jewish Studies.

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