This event is a part of YIVO's series Knowledge Under Siege, which presents recent scholarship from Poland about the Holocaust and antisemitism. Each event features scholars discussing a recent book they worked on.
Bozena Keff, Straznicy fatum [The guardians of fate] (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Krytyki Politycznej, 2020).
“Straznicy fatum” [The guardians of fate] by Bozena Keff is a collection of essays on Polish-language literature about the Holocaust. Keff asks whether those literary works contain a diagnosis of Polish culture that corresponds with its assessment by critical humanities and arts today. In the texts analyzed by Keff, Poles are presented as so-called “Polish witnesses to the Holocaust” who were allegedly “helpless” because of the Nazi terror. Today – on the basis on the same texts – they are recognized as co-perpetrators. Another topic discussed by Keff are the terms and conditions that Polish culture has imposed upon Jews who undertook to integrate into it. “Host and guest regulations” were and are intuitively known to all Jews in Poland as a set of unwritten, because obvious, rules of domination and submission. Keff examines their functioning notably in the biography and work of a Polish-language poet of the Holocaust Tadeusz Rózewicz.
About the Speaker
Bozena Keff – a philosopher by training, she is a writer, poet, feminist activist and theorist. Her books include: “Postac z cieniem. Postacie zydówek w polskiej literaturze konca XIX wieku i dwudziestolecia miedzywojennego” [Figure with shadow. Portraits of Jewish women in Polish literature at the turn of the twentieth century] (2001); “Barykady. Kroniki obsesyjne” [Barricades. Obsessive chronicles] (2005). Her monograph “Antysemityzm. Niezamknieta historia” [Anti-Semitism. Story unfinished] (2013) addresses antisemitism as a durable element in European and Polish history and culture. Translated into Hebrew, French, Italian, Spanish and German, her transgressive poetry suite “Utwór o Matce i ojczyznie” (2008) was published in the US as “On Mother and Fatherland” in the translation of Alissa Valles and Benjamin Paloff in 2017.
Ticket Info: Free; register at yivo.org/KnowledgeUnderSiege3