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Culture Front

Bringing together contributions by historians and literary scholars, Culture Front explores how Jews and their Slavic neighbors produced and consumed imaginative representations of Jewish life in chronicles, plays, novels, poetry, memoirs, museums, and elsewhere.

Culture Front
Representing Jews in Eastern Europe

Edited by Benjamin Nathans and Gabriella Safran

2008 | 336 pages | Cloth $69.95
Religion / History
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Table of Contents

—David B. Ruderman

Introduction: A New Look at East European Jewish Culture
—Benjamin Nathans and Gabriella Safran

1. Jewish Literary Responses to the Events of 1648-1649 and the Creation of a Polish-
Jewish Consciousness
—Adam Teller
2. "Civil Christians": Debates on the Reform of the Jews in Poland, 1789-1830
—Marcin Wodziński

3. The Botched Kiss and the Beginnings of the Yiddish Stage
—Alyssa Quint
4. The Polish Popular Novel and Jewish Modernization at the End of the Nineteenth and Beginning of the Twentieth Centuries
—Eugenia Prokop-Janiec
5. Cul-de-Sac: The "Inner Life of Jews" on the Fin-de-Siècle Polish Stage
—Michael C. Steinlauf

6. Yosef Haim Brenner, the "Half-Intelligentsia," and Russian-Jewish Politics, 1899-1908
—Jonathan Frankel
7. Recreating Jewish Identity in Haim Nahman Bialik's Poems: The Russian Context
—Hamutal Bar-Yosef
8. Not The Dybbuk but Don Quixote: Translation, Deparochialization, and Nationalism in Jewish Culture, 1917-1919
—Kenneth Moss
9. Beyond the Purim-shpil: Reinventing the Scroll of Esther in Modern Yiddish Poems
—Kathryn Hellerstein

10. Revealing and Concealing the Soviet Jewish Self: The Desk-Drawer Memoirs of Meir Viner
—Marcus Moseley
11. The Shtetl Subjunctive: Yaffa Eliach's Living History Museum
—Jeffrey Shandler

List of Contributors

Excerpt [uncorrected, not for citation]

This volume originated in the 2002-3 academic year of study at the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies of the University of Pennsylvania, organized around the topic of East European Jewry. Benjamin Nathans of the University of Pennsylvania was the primary force in proposing the program, running its weekly seminars, and planning the concluding conference. We are all indebted to him and to his editorial partner, Gabriella Safran of Stanford University, one of our visiting fellows for the year, for conceptualizing the book at hand and for bringing it to completion.

The twenty scholars in residence at the Center for all or part of the year included many of the major senior figures along with some of the most interesting younger people working on the history, arts, and culture of the Jews of Eastern Europe. The group was, as always, an international one, with fellows from North America, Israel, and Europe, east and west. Most were historians, though there was significant representation by scholars of Yiddish, Hebrew, and Russian literature. The formal weekly seminars were supplemented by smaller reading groups, including one focusing on Yiddish literature and run entirely in that language.

Some sixty years after the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe were almost eradicated by the Holocaust, the study of their culture and history is thriving, and we all came to realize that the activities of the Center represented a celebration of this renaissance. Our scholarly exchanges, and the book that emerged from them, provide ample testimony to the field's renewed vitality. I am most appreciative of all who participated in our year-long project and especially of those who have agreed to have their essays appear in this volume.

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