Representing Jews in Eastern EuropeUniversity of Pennsylvania Press Jewish Culture and Contexts
For most of the last four centuries, the broad expanse of territory between the Baltic and the Black Seas, known since the Enlightenment as "Eastern Europe," has been home to the world's largest Jewish population. The Jews of Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Galicia, Romania, and Ukraine were prodigious generators of modern Jewish culture. Their volatile blend of religious traditionalism and precocious quests for collective self-emancipation lies at the heart of Culture Front.
This volume brings together contributions by both historians and literary scholars to take readers on a journey across the cultural history of East European Jewry from the mid-seventeenth century to the present. The articles collected here explore how Jews and their Slavic neighbors produced and consumed imaginative representations of Jewish life in chronicles, plays, novels, poetry, memoirs, museums, and more.
The book puts culture at the forefront of analysis, treating verbal artistry itself as a kind of frontier through which Jews and Slavs imagined, experienced, and negotiated with themselves and each other. The four sections investigate the distinctive themes of that frontier: violence and civility; popular culture; politics and aesthetics; and memory. The result is a fresh exploration of ideas and movements that helped change the landscape of modern Jewish history.
—David B. Ruderman
Introduction: A New Look at East European Jewish Culture
—Benjamin Nathans and Gabriella Safran
PART I. VIOLENCE AND CIVILITY
1. Jewish Literary Responses to the Events of 1648-1649 and the Creation of a Polish-
2. "Civil Christians": Debates on the Reform of the Jews in Poland, 1789-1830
PART II. MIRRORS OF POPULAR CULTURE
3. The Botched Kiss and the Beginnings of the Yiddish Stage
4. The Polish Popular Novel and Jewish Modernization at the End of the Nineteenth and Beginning of the Twentieth Centuries
5. Cul-de-Sac: The "Inner Life of Jews" on the Fin-de-Siècle Polish Stage
—Michael C. Steinlauf
PART III. POLITICS AND AESTHETICS
6. Yosef Haim Brenner, the "Half-Intelligentsia," and Russian-Jewish Politics, 1899-1908
7. Recreating Jewish Identity in Haim Nahman Bialik's Poems: The Russian Context
8. Not The Dybbuk but Don Quixote: Translation, Deparochialization, and Nationalism in Jewish Culture, 1917-1919
9. Beyond the Purim-shpil: Reinventing the Scroll of Esther in Modern Yiddish Poems
PART IV. MEMORY PROJECTS
10. Revealing and Concealing the Soviet Jewish Self: The Desk-Drawer Memoirs of Meir Viner
11. The Shtetl Subjunctive: Yaffa Eliach's Living History Museum
List of Contributors