Yiddish publishers in the postwar period sought to collect, codify, and (re)produce Yiddish literature as a preservative measure against cultural erasure. This was in part a reaction to the aftermath of the Holocaust and a fear that the legacy of this culture could soon be lost forever. Many major resulting publications bear the marks of these anxieties most prominently in their form, which was characteristically accumulative: large scale book series, anthologies, lexica, encyclopedias, and reprinted editions of the collected or complete works of Yiddish’s classic writers, Mendele, Sholem Aleichem, and I.L. Peretz. As these new volumes traveled around the world, from Buenos Aires to New York, Montreal to Warsaw, and many places in between, their creation and circulation highlights a changing transnational literary network that had recently flourished during the interwar years. Publishers responded to a network in flux by flooding a literary market with new volumes.
In this lecture, Rachelle Grossman will give an overview of global Yiddish after the Holocaust by focusing on competing publications made in honor of two literary jubilees of I.L. Peretz, “the father of modern Jewish literature”: his 30th yahrzeit and his 100th birthday. These publishing efforts were not only a means to create new Yiddish books, but they were also a form of public debate over the meaning of Peretz the figure, his work, and the place of Yiddish in postwar Jewish life.
About the Speaker
Rachelle Grossman is a specialist in Yiddish print culture, and she is completing a doctorate in Comparative Literature at Harvard University. Her article on Yiddish publishing in postwar Poland was recently awarded the Pantzer New Scholar Award by the Bibliographical Society of America. Her work on Yiddish in Mexico was awarded the 2020 UC Irvine and is forthcoming in Comparative Literature Studies. Rachelle’s research has been supported by the Polish Studies Association, the Latin American Jewish Studies Association, and the American Academy for Jewish Research. She was the recipient of the Aleksander and Alicja Hertz Memorial Fellowship and the Samuel and Flora Weiss Research Fellowship in Polish Jewish Studies at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.
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