What Makes A Text Jewish? Literature and History in the Postmodern
In the aftermath of Leslie Morris's brilliant 2018 work, The Translated Jew, I am interested in the question of what makes a text Jewish in the current era. Marked by the transnational and the transcultural, in the grip of an ever-expanding global diaspora in which issues of exile, memory, identity, and representation abound, how do our texts reflect Jewishness in the now? How do we access history, what role does story play, and how does story interface with identity? In short, how do we now parse the relationship between literature and history?
I am seeking to put together a panel for the December 2023 Jewish Studies Association Conference to address themes of exile, transnationalism and tranculturalism, racialization and colonialism, in exploration of what makes a given text Jewish. My own project focuses on the German writer W. G. Sebald's astonishing piece, Austerlitz, featuring, in its most simple iteration, the eponymous hero wandering across a blasted twentieth-century European landscape in search of his lost Jewish origins. How does Sebald, a non-Jew, appropriate the fictional voice of the Jew, I ask, and to what effect? What is being negotiated here?
I invite you to send a brief description summarizing your interest in joining this panel along with your proposed contribution (up to 350 words) and contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than May 1, 2023. I look forward to hearing from you.