Swindles and Seductions: The Curious Affinity of Sholem Aleichem and Isaac Bashevis Singer

Sholem Aleichem and Isaac Bashevis Singer are each household names, and together, their writing careers spanned virtually the entire twentieth century. Their deep affinity transcends their shared celebrity, though. They defined the Yiddish response to modernity by taking a stance against progress and the other developmental ideals that had powered the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment). Drawing on the speaker’s award-winning book Never Better!: The Modern Jewish Picaresque, this talk will explain the central role of various deceptions—the swindle in the case of Sholem Aleichem and the seduction in that of Bashevis Singer—in illustrating a rapidly changing world newly devoid of even secular pieties.

Miriam Udel is associate professor of German Studies and Jewish Studies at Emory University, where her teaching focuses on Yiddish language, literature, and culture. She holds an AB in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University, as well as a PhD in Comparative Literature from the same institution. Her research interests include Yiddish modernism, genre studies, Jewish children’s literature, and American-Jewish literature. She is the author of Never Better!: The Modern Jewish Picaresque (University of Michigan Press, 2016), winner of a National Jewish Book Award in Modern Jewish Thought and Experience. She is preparing an annotated, translated anthology of Yiddish children’s literature called Honey on the Page, slated to appear with New York University Press.











When: Wed., Jul. 5, 2017 at 6:30 pm
Where: New York Public Library—Mid-Manhattan Library
476 Fifth Ave. (42nd St. Entrance)
212-340-0863
Price: Free
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Sholem Aleichem and Isaac Bashevis Singer are each household names, and together, their writing careers spanned virtually the entire twentieth century. Their deep affinity transcends their shared celebrity, though. They defined the Yiddish response to modernity by taking a stance against progress and the other developmental ideals that had powered the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment). Drawing on the speaker’s award-winning book Never Better!: The Modern Jewish Picaresque, this talk will explain the central role of various deceptions—the swindle in the case of Sholem Aleichem and the seduction in that of Bashevis Singer—in illustrating a rapidly changing world newly devoid of even secular pieties.

Miriam Udel is associate professor of German Studies and Jewish Studies at Emory University, where her teaching focuses on Yiddish language, literature, and culture. She holds an AB in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University, as well as a PhD in Comparative Literature from the same institution. Her research interests include Yiddish modernism, genre studies, Jewish children’s literature, and American-Jewish literature. She is the author of Never Better!: The Modern Jewish Picaresque (University of Michigan Press, 2016), winner of a National Jewish Book Award in Modern Jewish Thought and Experience. She is preparing an annotated, translated anthology of Yiddish children’s literature called Honey on the Page, slated to appear with New York University Press.

Buy tickets/get more info now