Jewish Ghosts: Haunting and the Haunted in Literature and Culture
Conference sponsored by CUNY Graduate Center and Columbia University
365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016
October 30th and 31st, 2019
Call for Papers:
Deadline: April 28th, 2019
Haunting – the uncanny, the past returned, the ontological in-between – is a fundamentally disturbing mode of existence. It can result from grief and loss, indicating improperly resolved mourning or the persistence of trauma’s effects. It can signal problems in the transmission of memory or crimes left unaddressed. As ghosts, it can symbolize society’s others, people who have been wronged by history, who have been forgotten or who seem to threaten the world order. All of these circumstances prevent individuals, places and times from retaining tidy boundaries or transparent, singular definitions. Though menacing, haunting can also be helpful in forming deep connections to the past and to identity or serve as a metaphor of the need for closure.
Throughout literature, art and culture, haunting is tapped to figure a number of topics. It seems to recur in works by or referring to Jews. This conference will explore the many renditions of haunting which appear in the Jewish imaginary and in the imagination of Jews. What do these specters, haunted spaces and ghostly objects symbolize? How do they help or harm Jewish identity? What do they indicate about Jewish concepts of time and history? Has the shape of these Jewish hauntings altered over time? How might haunting act as a critical lens for understanding the Jewish experience?
This conference aims at an inter-disciplinary look at this trope as it arises in a number of fields from the 19th century to the present day, including history, art, literature, religious studies and psychology. Topics may include but are not limited to: