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Politics, Ideology, and the Institutions of Modern Yiddish Culture.

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Presentation on theme: "Politics, Ideology, and the Institutions of Modern Yiddish Culture."— Presentation transcript:

1 Politics, Ideology, and the Institutions of Modern Yiddish Culture

2 HEV.: Why and how is this –ism important to the spread of modern Yiddish culture Socialism Communism Marxism Anarchism Nationalism Populism Zionism

3 HEVRUTA: Bundism=Marxist Socialism + Yiddishism Bundist Ideology according to Weinreich: The last, ultimate stage of Jewish consciousness is the Bund ideology, as formulated by Vladimir Medem. It links the spiritual nationalism, as defined by Shimon Dubnov around three focal points (Yiddish is the national language, Jewish intelligentsia leads Jewish masses, the homeland of Jews is Yiddishland, where they live according to their own autonomous, Eastern European culture), with the Marxist postulate of eradicating the economic bases of the Jewish problem through productivization. Questions: 1.How is such an ideology possible? 2.Why does it develop? 3.Who would like this? Who would not?

4 HEVRUTA: Abraham Cahan and the Rise of the Yiddish Press Abraham Cahan, a young immigrant from Vilna, Lithuania, is credited with giving the first Yiddish Socialist speech in America. In 1882, after attending a Socialist meeting ostensibly aimed at Jewish workers but at which all of the speakers had given their remarks in Russian or German, Cahan asked the organizers why they did not use the language of the people they were trying to reach. The radicals laughed at the thought and contemptuously suggested that he try it himself. Questions: Why are they speaking in Russian or German? Is this an audience-centered question or a speaker-centered question? When and why does Yiddish come to America? Why do they laugh at Cahan? What does Michels say about how the above quote reflects his thesis of speaking to Moyshe? 1890s


6 Tony Michels and Yiddish in America The US, not Eastern Europe, is the real birthplace of socialist Yiddish culture Yiddish-speaking Jews in America become socialist in America in the 1880s-1890s. They dont bring it with them from Russia. No culture of reading mass press among Jewish immigrants. They develop that in US and then export it back to Russian Empire. German socialists teach immigrant Jewish leaders Debate about language use and political populism

7 Geography of Yiddish Press Models for mass Yiddish press? German socialist press (Vorwärts), Germans on Lower East Side Mass press booms in London and the US and only later in Russian Empire. Why? Who writes a Yiddish newspaper? Symbiotic relationship between development of authors and readers. Anarchism and Socialism Yiddish press as the central venue for spreading ideas and culture, 1880s-1930s



10 Czernowitz Conference, 1908 Why a language conference? dialects how to raise Yiddishs status (stop calling it jargon) Yiddish=Jewish Main accomplishments Yiddish as a national language (Peretz) or the national language (Frumkina and Bundists) Standardization of language, Creation of New Publishing Opportunities

11 Making Modern Secular Jewish Culture: 2 approaches to creating the secular Jewish nation Deparochialization or Indigenization Deparochialization: translating the world canon, philosophy, govt. docs, literature, Oscar Wilde (art for arts sake), Knut Hamsen, translations of world classics. Horizontal approach. Indigenization: translating the Jewish canon: 1909-1911 (Yiddish translation of the Bible, Yehoash), Ansky, Perets, preserving for the purpose of creation. Folklore, ethnography, Hasidism. Vertical approach (inside out)

12 YIVO established, 1925 Max Weinreich Shmuel Niger Zelig Kalmanovitch Culmination of Efforts to Modernize Yiddish In theory, apolitical; in practice, mostly socialists/territorialists Vilna/Berlin as foundational sites Social science, humanities research in Yiddish about eastern European Jews. Still exists today: YIVO Encyclopedia

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