The format of the 2018 PJSW is designed to maximize scholarly exchange. We will convene roundtable discussions engaging with cultural “texts” (such as photography, dance, music, film, liturgical practices, architecture, fine arts, poetry, prose, and fashion), their producers, and audiences. We envision six distinct thematic constellations, which are also related to one another: 

Translations: Translation can be textual and performative. It can also serve as a cultural mediation and appropriation. Who were the “translators” in these urban spaces? What “texts” treated Jewish themes in the time frame under consideration? How did translations of old “texts” to new media function, and how did their meanings change? 

Geographies: Geographies can be both physical and conceptual. They inform relationships between center and periphery, and shape cultural production. How did a particular urban setting inform its culture? What were the networks of geography that stimulated cultural exchange? How did economy impact the cultural map of a city? 

Traditions: Traditional Jewish and Christian cultures in Polish lands under partitions and the Second Republic adapted to urban life, which inspired synergies and triggered conflicts. Jews created distinct neighborhoods, but they also lived among their non-observant coreligionists and Christians. How did Jewish cultures adapt to shifting forms of market economy, changing conventions, and new fashions? What new artistic genres and styles (architectural, musical, theatrical, liturgical, etc.) were created as traditions were abandoned or reinterpreted? How did Christians respond to the increased presence of Jewish artists in Polish cultural production? 

Audiences: While the elites continued to influence high culture, new audiences with distinct tastes emerged. Urban centers produced mass audiences whose inclinations and preoccupations had a powerful impact on artistic production. To whom were the diverse forms of culture directed? How were they disseminated? How far was their reach within Poland and beyond? What were the political dimensions of cultural patronage? 

High and Low Cultures: There was a continuous flow of inspiration between high and low forms of cultural production. Genres such as cabaret and avant-garde theater, and opera and popular song mutually influenced each other. What were the artistic outcomes of such inspirations, which included the work of caricaturists, illustrators, and literary work reflecting on the underworld, among others? What were the political dimensions of high-low art forms? What was the social role of middlebrow art? 

Embodiments and Spaces: Urban life produced new public and private spaces, transforming family lives, gender roles, and expectations. In these new spaces, women and men negotiated and redefined their identities. In what ways did architectural forms adapt? How did photographers and filmmakers imagine these contemporary cities and interpret their modernization? What were the changes in dress and costume during the period under consideration? How were male and female bodies construed in new dance, film, and graphic art genres? 

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