Publisher:  Rowman & Littlefield
Original Publisher:  Rowman & Littlefield
Published:  2000
Language:  English
Pages:   222

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About the Book

This work provides an introduction to some of the important researchers, issues, and methodological and stylistic approaches in Yiddish and Jewish studies.

“One cannot fully know the process of the Jewish transition into modernity without knowing what Yiddish holds,” wrote Ruth Wisse in 1985. Since then, the scholar who is now the Martin Peretz Professor of Yiddish Literature at Harvard University has done as much as anyone else on earth to let people without a command of mameloshen in on what they are missing. In addition to her numerous books and essays on Yiddish fiction and poetry, she has also reflected deeply on “the politics of Yiddish,” whose failure she here explains and laments. This essay is republished by permission of Commentary, where it first appeared. — The Editors.


Introduction: On the "Politics of Yiddish"

Politics, Ideology, and Scholarship
Yiddishism and Judaism
Yiddish language politics in the Ukraine (1930-1936)
What was going on at the 1935 Yivo Conference?
The Czernowitz Conference in retrospect
The politics of research on spoken Yiddish

Communities, Centres, and Cities
Yiddish socialist press in New York, 1880s-1920s
Yiddish in orthodox communities of Jerusalem
Shloyme Mikhoels and his theatre
Writers must eat: the New York City Yiddish Writers Group of the Work Progress Administration
Petticoat Lane and the North-West Passage (London, 1880-1940)
Art and politics: the case of the New York Artef Theatre (1925-1940)

Language, Folklore, and Literature
Zmires Purim—the third phase of Jewish carnavalistic folk-literature
Dovid Bergelson's Bam Dnieper: a passport to Moscow
Dovid Holfstein — our first wonder
The Aston corpus of Soviet Yiddish lexicon
A Vilna folklorist's collection: Structural analysis of Yiddish riddles
Mr Khauruchenka, Miss Shaihets, Mrs Hoika and others: the origin of some other unusual family names

List of contributors


The geolinguistic aspects are obvious, especially in terms of preserving the culture 'of our fathers,' government language policies and social developments antithetical to Yiddish, and so on....It is undeniable that Yiddish serves as a busy battleground for liguists with strong opinions and also as a subject for non-Jewish siciolinguists interested in the conflicts between favored and less favored languages growing and others fading in popularity or prestige, etc. The Yinglish if I may call it that, in which this book is now and then written, Yiddish words and expressions popping up with great regularity in a basically English text, is also fascinating. That is still another linguistic phenomenon in which sociolinguists ought to take more interest than they have heretofore done.

--- Geolinguistics, Vol. 25, 1999

This volume will introduce students of Yiddish and Jewish Studies to some of the important researchers, issues, and methodological and stylistic approaches in the field and will be a useful introductory text for language and culture courses where the teacher wants to extend the students' view beyond basic literary and linguistic material. The professional will find useful additions to a number of familiar discussions and may also find completely unexpected directions of considerable interest and value. The two essays translated from the Yiddish are an important resource and to some may be a revelation. All in all, Politics of Yiddish is a rich sampling of first rate work that extends the field.

--- David Goldberg, Modern Language Association