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Seductive Modernity?: Intimacy and Culture in the 19th Century

Mon, December 16, 10:30am to 12:00pm, Hilton Bayfront San Diego, Sapphire 410B

Session Submission Type: Lightning Session

Session Sponsor: The Posen Library


This session, styled after the literary salons that began during this period, will include music, short papers, and (hopefully) some food. Elisheva Carlebach describes this historical moment as one “in which every aspect of Jewish life underwent the most profound changes to have occurred since antiquity.” Yet, at the same time, there were extraordinary innovations designed to preserve, adapt, and revitalize traditions. Modernity seduced some and repulsed others. These years of confronting modernity involved an enormous range of contrasting responses. It is a period that encompasses both the birth of Hasidism and of secularism (not a Jewish ideology per se in that period), as well as an era of conversions to Christianity and the emergence of 'ultra-Orthodoxy.’

Papers will bring together scholars working in disparate areas of Jewish culture and will explore the themes of Jewish religion and culture and the rise of secular Jewishness as it takes shape over these years. At the same time, the papers will look at enduring traditions. In formal terms, papers will explore aspects of Jewish thought, children’s literature, visual arts, music, and Ladino/Sephardi and Mizrahi Studies.

Primary sources of this period demonstrate a tumultuous time of changing borders and imperialistic nations, demographic shifts, and significant rates of Jewish immigration to the United States, along with intertwining ideals of enlightenment and emancipation, which become “the very foundation of Jewish experience in this period.” Each paper will be centered on one or two primary artifacts (texts, images, and songs), used as examples to amplify broader cultural trends in the period.

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