Skip to Content

Terms of Attachment: Reimagining Relationships to Language in Jewish Literature

«Back To Seminars

Organizer: Eyal Bassan

Co-Organizer: Yaakov Herskovitz, Roni Henig

Contact the Seminar Organizers

The common historiographical narrative, according to which the problem of modern Jewish literature begins with a necessary and ideologically fraught moment of “language choice,” has been complicated in recent years by a growing understanding that this literature—whatever language has been chosen for it—always remains, in various senses, fundamentally multilingual. Beyond and between these hermeneutic perspectives—i.e., between the decisiveness of choice and the loose generality of multilingualism—this seminar proposes to rethink the scene of Jewish writing as a dynamic, multifarious, and constantly evolving field of linguistic attachments.   Within an essentially multilingual cultural landscape, wherein the vernacular, the mother tongue, and the national language rarely coincide, the very idea of Jewish writing often hosts multiple attachments to various languages and dialects. These attachments can be personal or communal, affective or utilitarian, national or familial, inherited or invented. Coexisting yet divergent and uneven in nature, they may occasionally be conceived of—or experienced—as competing and conflicting. For the most part, however, they turn out to complement and supplement each other; partially overlapping, they encroach and enrich one another, redefining themselves in the process.     We invite papers that probe, trace, or unravel the play of attachments and detachments that take place within and around Jewish writing throughout the twentieth century (and beyond). In particular, we welcome papers that address the ways in which the literary text often emerges as not only the result but also the performance of an ongoing negotiation between multiple ways of attaching and being attached. Papers are welcome to address the issue of lingual attachment through the lens of gender, sexual politics, psychoanalysis, passivity, control, domination and ownership. In other words, we are interested in exploring not only how an underlying state of multilingualism—whether repressed or celebrated—determines and conditions the nature of the literary work, but also how, for some writers, the work itself becomes a project of reimagining their own terms of lingual attachments.

«Back To Seminars