CFP: The Perennial Other: Yiddish Literature in Comparative Contexts (11/30/05; ACLA, 3/23/06-3/26/06)

full name / name of organization: 
Marc Caplan
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Seminar Title: The Perennial Other: Yiddish Literature in Comparative

This seminar--which will convene at the 2006 ACLA conference at Princeton
University--proposes to examine in historical and theoretical terms the
multilingual contexts in which Yiddish literature has appeared. The
vernacular language of Ashkenazic Jews, Yiddish has a thousand-year history
of functioning at territorial, linguistic, and cultural crossroads. A fusion
language consisting of Romance, German, Slavic, and Semitic components,
Yiddish throughout the modern era has excited considerable anxiety among its
linguistic neighbors: it has been vilified as a thieves' language; a
degraded form of German; a linguistic symbol of irrationality and disorder;
a mark of provincialism, parochialism, or Ashkenazic chauvinism; a language
of the anti-Zionist left as well as the anti-modern right.

In spite of these pejorative and stereotypical labels--which have been
applied to Yiddish as much by Jews themselves as by antagonistic
non-Jews--the Yiddish language has functioned as Ashkenazic Jewry's primary
language of mediation and cultural negotiation for nearly a millennium, and
Yiddish culture for the past 150 years has produced a roving, experimental,
subversive literature fully engaged with the leading modernist trends active
in Europe, the United States, the Soviet Union, and Israel. This seminar
will therefore attempt to understand Yiddish literature as an inherently
multi-lingual, liminal cultural production that can only be understood fully
with reference to its dialogical relationship with contemporaneous and
co-territorial literary cultures. As such, it intends to demonstrate the
relevance of Yiddish, as well as other local, "minor" languages, to a
theoretical understanding of the politics of literary form, the
self-perception of the Other, and the problematic assumptions of the Human
in the age of post-Enlightenment modernity.

This seminar will seriously consider for inclusion any topic involving
Yiddish in a comparative context. Suggested topics for consideration include
the following:

Yiddish literature between non-Jewish sources and Jewish audiences
Yiddish literature during the Renaissance
Yiddish as a bridge between tradition and modernity
Yiddish literature and the problems of translation
Enlightenment philosophy and Yiddish literature
Yiddish literature as immigrant literature
The relationship of American Yiddish poetry to American literary aesthetics
Yiddish writers in Weimar Germany
Yiddish literature as Soviet literature
The status of Yiddish in Israel
Yiddish writers in the post-colonial world
Yiddish literature and post-colonial theory
Yiddish literature and gender theory
Yiddish discourse in non-Jewish literary languages
Yiddish in comparison with other "minor" vernaculars.

Please submit a paper proposal to this seminar directly on the ACLA website,
<>, following the links and
instructions provided there, by November 30, 2005.

Please direct any inquiries regarding this seminar to Marc Caplan at

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Received on Sat Oct 29 2005 - 14:48:56 EDT