Literature, Ethnography and Polish-Yiddish Cultural Relations

In the paper, I would like to look at several Yiddish intellectuals trained at Polish universities in the field of humanities (literary studies, philosophy, and ethnography) in Kraków, Lwów, Warsaw, and Wilno, and later associated in one way or another with the YIVO Institute, who are at the same time what I call agents of Polish-Yiddish cultural transfer. I will look at public intellectuals who worked in the field of literary studies or ethnography, or crossed the boundaries between the two, like Nachman Blumenthal, Naftali Weinig, Daniel Fajnsztejn, Chaim Chajes, Rachela Auerbach. By analyzing this quite diverse, and male-dominated group I would like to ask the following question: how the Polish academic training, shaped their work in the field of Yiddish scholarship, and literary criticism, and, further, whether and how they used this training to analyze and criticize Polish-Jewish relations in the field of culture, as well as propose its alternative vision. In the interwar period, literary studies and ethnography, besides historical research, became important sites for negotiating the shape of Polish-Jewish coexistence. I would like to look at this problem from the modernist perspective of form-content, looking both at the topics they handled, as well as the methods applied, to see how these diverse centers of knowledge production influenced and changed their work, and, on the other hand, whether their own mobility, triggered by both economic and ideological reasons, changed the nature of knowledge production in the respective centers, giving raise to new original perspectives in their own fields. The result would be a complex network of cultural transfer that can be interpreted through different lens of cultural geography, gender, or the methodologies applied

5th Annual International
Polish Jewish Studies Workshop

“Centering the Periphery: Polish Jewish Cultural Production Beyond the Capital”

Rutgers University
the State University of New Jersey

March 5-6, 2018
Rutgers University Inn
178 Ryders Lane
New Brunswick, NJ  08901