Yiddish: Wanted Dead or Alive

Upon receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1978, Isaac Bashevis Singer commented: “I like to write ghost stories and nothing fits a ghost better than a dying language. The deader the language the more alive is the ghost.” While receiving this literary honor over four decades ago, Singer expressed the view that Yiddish, the language he wrote in, was in decline. And yet, today we are seeing a resurgence of this supposedly dead language! In this exciting one-session class by Yiddish historical expert Dr. Rachel Seelig, we will explore the fate of Yiddish culture since World War II. Did Yiddish culture survive after the Holocaust? Where? Who was responsible for sustaining it? And how do we understand the renewed interest in Yiddish today? Join us as we explore these questions and more in this fascinating new Melton class.

Rachel Seelig is a scholar of modern Jewish literature and freelance writer based in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of Strangers in Berlin: Modern Jewish Literature between East and West, 1919–1933 (University of Michigan Press, 2016) and the co-editor of The German-Hebrew Dialogue: Studies of Encounter and Exchange (De Gruyter Press, 2017). Since receiving her PhD from the University of Chicago, Rachel has held teaching and research appointments at Harvard, Columbia, the University of Michigan, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the University of Toronto. Beyond her academic writing, Rachel’s essays regularly appear in a variety of publications, such as Kveller, Today's Parent, Canadian Jewish News, and the Globe and Mail. Together with her partner, Erol Boran, she also writes and publishes children's books under the imprint Lovely Books. Rachel taught in the Melton program during her graduate studies and is delighted to return.

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