Education and Initiation in the Novels of the Yiddish Haskole and Islamic Negritude, ACJC Research Seminar with A/Prof Marc Caplan (Wednesday 29 May, 12pm)

The Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation invites you to a Research Seminar:

Wednesday 29 May 2013
12:00-1:00 pm

ACJC Krongold Seminar Room

Level 8, Building H, Room 8.05, Caulfield Campus, Monash University


Associate Professor Marc Caplan of Johns Hopkins University speaking on:

Education and Initiation in the Novels of the Yiddish Haskole and Islamic Negritude

This seminar examines the literature of ostensibly marginal modern cultures as key to understanding modernism. Associate Professor Marc Caplan will compare nineteenth-century Yiddish literature and twentieth-century Anglophone and Francophone African literature, finding unexpected similarities between them. These literatures were created under imperial regimes that brought with them processes of modernization that were already well advanced elsewhere. Yiddish and African writers reacted to the liberating potential of modernity and the burdens of imperial authority by choosing similar narrative genres, typically reminiscent of early-modern European literatures: the picaresque, the pseudo-autobiography, satire, and the Bildungsroman. Professor Caplan will demonstrate that these literatures’ “belated” relationship to modernization suggests their potential to anticipate subsequent crises in the modernity and post-modernity of metropolitan cultures. The conflicts between tradition and modernity – expressed in both contexts as a competition between initiation and education of young people – result in a literature that provides a critique of modernity even at the outset of the modernization process.

Professor Caplan is the Zelda and Myer Tandetnik Professor in Yiddish Language, Literature, and Culture. His primary interest as a scholar is to place the study of Yiddish literature in comparative contexts. His first book, How Strange the Change: Language, Temporality, and Narrative Form in Peripheral Modernisms, was published by Stanford University Press in 2011.

All welcome.
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