Weimar and Now: Yiddish Writers in Weimar Berlin
with Dr Marc Caplan and
Prof François Guesnet (Chair)
Tuesday, 16 November 2021 18:00 – 19:00 GMT
UCL Institute of Jewish Studies
In this recently published book, Marc Caplan explores the reciprocal encounter between Eastern European Jews and German culture in the days following World War I. By concentrating primarily on a small group of avant-garde Yiddish writers—Dovid Bergelson, Der Nister, and Moyshe Kulbak—working in Berlin during the Weimar Republic, and the character of Yiddish literature produced, he examines how these writers became central to modernist aesthetics. He offers a new method of seeing how artistic creation is constructed and a new understanding of the political resonances that result from it. The book reveals how Yiddish literature participated in the culture of Weimar-era modernism, how active Yiddish writers were in the literary scene, and how German-speaking Jews read descriptions of Yiddish-speaking Jews to uncover the emotional complexity of what they managed to create even in the midst of their confusion and ambivalence in Germany.
Dr Marc Caplan is a native of Louisiana and a graduate of Yale University. In 2003 he received his PhD in comparative literature from New York University. Since then he has held research and professorial appointments at Indiana University, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, the University of Michigan, Yale, the University of Wroclaw (Poland), and Dartmouth College. Currently, he is a senior research fellow at the Maimonides Centre in Hamburg, Germany. Yiddish Writers in Weimar Berlin: A Fugitive Modernism was published by Indiana University Press in 2021.
François Guesnet is a Professor in Modern Jewish History in the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at University College London. He is also the Chair of the Institute for Polish-Jewish Studies, and the co-chair of the editorial board of Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry. He holds a PhD in Modern History from Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg im Breisgau, and specializes in the early modern and 19th century history of Eastern European, and more specifically, Polish Jews. He has published widely on Polish-Jewish history. Forthcoming is vol. 34 of Polin. Studies in Polish Jewry, co-edited with Antony Polonsky, on Jewish Self-government in Eastern Europe (Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2022) and Sources on Jewish Self-government in the Polish Lands from Its Inception to the Present (Brill, 2022).
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