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Session Submission Type: Roundtable
This roundtable explores how critical, scholarly engagements with personal experiences within legal, literary, and epistemic forms do political work in the academy and beyond. In particular, participants will consider the power relationships that emerge in memoir, ethnography, and hybrid narratives in order to attest to and to expand the multifaceted expression of (gendered) Jewish cultural production, ritual, and law. The goal of the session is to engage colleagues across disciplines in a discussion about the challenges of incorporating lived experience in writing that breaks through the typical academic dismissal of the first-person, thus suggesting the political value of such endeavors beyond the university. Drawing from the work of literary, legal/rabbinic, and ethnographic scholars and practitioners engaged in building bridges between academic studies of Jewish experience mediated through cultural production and first-hand accounts, this roundtable draws together discussants with a wide range of experience in composing memoirs and ethnographies, initiating rituals and rabbinic practice, and bridging secular and religious expressions of Jewish life.
1. How do critical, scholarly engagements with personal experiences within legal, literary, and epistemic forms do political work in the academy and beyond?
2. What kind of Jewish futures are possible when communities are imagined as collectives of embodied, gendered, and sexed subjects?
3. How might scholars who cross disciplinary boundaries employ the first-person to incorporate expressions of hope and transformation beyond abstract analyses of texts?
Moderator: Karen Remmler, a scholar of German Jewish studies, will work with the discussants to assure that their contributions form a coherent set of responses.
Gail Labovitz will consider how scholarship impacts how we live out our religious lives.
Cara Rock-Singer will reflect on what her own pregnant body in the field allowed her to know about the gendered and sexed politics of knowledge production and leadership.
Tahneer Oksman will consider how personal narrative can help scholars work through some of the analytical and structural problems that emerge in scholarship.
Vanessa Ochs will consider the role of Jewish Ritual Studies as a supplementary curriculum.
Claire Emily Sufrin will explore reproductive bodies and the gendered and sexed politics of knowledge production.