Call for Papers: <br>Global Yiddish Culture, 1938 – 1948

Call for Papers:
Global Yiddish Culture, 1938 – 1948

8th Annual Symposium of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures
University of Toronto
April 20-21, 2015

In 1926 Yiddish writer Dovid Bergelson suggested that Yiddish culture had three centers: Poland, the Soviet Union and United States. Between 1939 and 1941, this geography radically changed. While New York remained a Yiddish centre, Polish and most European Soviet ones ceased to exist.  By 1943, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and South Siberia became the new centers of Yiddish culture. Yiddish writers, actors, artists, activists, musicians, and poets from around the world found themselves in close proximity with one another and in close contact with their counterparts in the United States.  By 1943, when the majority of the world’s Yiddish speakers were murdered, Yiddish civilization went through a radical transformation and became the culture of guilt-driven resisters, fighters and survivors.

The interdisciplinary symposium “Global Yiddish Culture, 1938 – 1948” invites historians, literary scholars, sociologists, cinema and theatre scholars to think about the nature of Yiddish culture that developed during this difficult period in Jewish history. We are interested in discussing works by individual authors or institutions (Yiddish theaters, concert groups, newspapers and more) and in issues of public Yiddish culture, relationship between war-torn governments and Yiddish activists, challenges and achievements of the Yiddish press in the Soviet Union and in the United States, and the state of Yiddish culture in Palestine and South America. Of special interest are papers on the transnational nature of Yiddish civilization of the period, as well as submissions that deal with questions of the relationships between wartime Yiddish and Russian, English, Spanish, and Polish-language Jewish cultures.

Papers presented at the symposium will be considered for a publication in a special issue of East European Jewish Affairs (subject to additional peer-review).

The symposium will take place on April 20-21, 2015 at the University of Toronto. It is the 8th Annual Symposium of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, generously co-sponsored by the Centre for Jewish Studies and Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies.

To participate in the symposium, please send a title, 200-250 words paper proposal and one-page CV by September 16, 2014 to You will be notified about the status of your proposal by October 1, 2014. The organizers hope to be able to cover travel expenses for participants.

Organizing committee:
Professor Doris Bergen (History, University of Toronto)
Professor Jeffrey Kopstein (Political Science, University of Toronto)
Professor Anna Shternshis (Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures and Centre for Diaspora Studies, University of Toronto)

Logo CJS

Download poster here.