Locating Gender in Modern Jewish Literature (ACLA, 4-7 April 2013)

full name / name of organization: 
Melissa Weininger (Rice University), Efrat Bloom (University of Michigan)
contact email: 

With its turn away from religion and towards secular, Western culture, modernity upended many of the boundaries that have traditionally organized Jewish life, confounding private and public, home and study house, feminine and masculine. Modern Jewish writers contended with gender identities as these were implicated in a reordered social and cultural world and in the changing roles and expectations for Jewish women. Literature continually (re)constructed female subjectivities and at the same time has been constructed by them, making women as writers, subjects, and objects of representation central to the project of Jewish modernity.

Modernity as a drama of space—of real, imagined, and metaphoric spatial transitions—stands at the center of this seminar. We seek to explore the intersection between gender, space, and representation in modern Jewish literature, primarily with regard to female subjectivities.

- What is the role of space in articulating Jewish women's experience of modernity? What are the challenges posed to women by modernity and how are they revealed and negotiated through representations of space?
- Where is the Jewish female subject located in modernity? How are gender and displacement mutually implicated?
- How does modernity upend the gendered ordering of Jewish space? How are traditional spatial tropes undermined, subverted, and displaced to represent Jewish women's experience in modern times?
- How has Zionism shaped women's understanding of their place and the concept of place in general? How do space and identity intersect in narratives of the Yishuv?

Proposals are welcome through the ACLA website: