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School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy | About us | Events in the school | Yiddish Exceptionalism: Lynching, Race, and Racism in Joseph Opatoshu's American Fiction

Yiddish Exceptionalism: Lynching, Race, and Racism in Joseph Opatoshu's American Fiction

When
Venue Senate House, North American History Room
Booking details
Free entry; booking required

Event description

Joseph Opatoshu’s story Lintsheray (“Lynching” 1923) offers the most intense exposition of race relations between American whites and Blacks in Yiddish literature; indeed it presents one of the most graphic descriptions of lynching in any language. This lecture will focus on Lintsheray in the context of the lynching motif in Yiddish literature as well as contemporaneous depictions in African-American fiction. Racism against African Americans was a preoccupation among Jewish radicals of the early twentieth century. By focusing on this subject, they proposed a mode of resistance to American culture to which other European immigrants had rushed to assimilate. This engagement with American racism politicizes the Yiddish language in a new way, by positioning it against a discourse of ‘whiteness’. That strategy, in turn, defines citizenship in legal, institutional, and ethical terms rather than cultural, linguistic, or racial ones. This critique of citizenship, ethnic identification, and ethical identity bespeaks a contemporary relevance for Yiddish culture - now more than ever.

Contact name
Speakers

Marc Caplan, Senior Research Fellow, Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften (IFK), Kunstuniversität Linz, Vienna