Inaugural Diane Feigenson Lectureship Launches with Yiddishist Dr. Dovid Katz
On Wednesday, March 30, Fairfield University’s Bennett Center for Judaic Studies will launch its Inaugural Diane Feigenson Lectureship in Jewish Literature with world-renowned Yiddishist Dovid Katz, PhD. The lectureship will be held at the Quick Center for the Arts’ Kelley Theatre at 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
Dr. Katz, a Lithuanian-based Yiddish scholar, author, educator and cultural historian, will discuss “Exotic Exploits and Contentious Chapters in Modern Yiddish Literature.” According to Dr. Katz, modern Yiddish literature began in the 18th century but did not progress until the 19th century when a number of daring innovators developed new forms of higher written culture in the European Jewish vernacular.
“This lecture will set the stage and go on to tell those stories,” said Dr. Katz, “They include the man who tried to produce a new all-Yiddish prayer book only to have the rabbis excommunicate him and the book together, and destroy the whole press run. There was the Hebrew author bullied into trying his hand at the vernacular by a diehard eccentric early adherents of Yiddish. There were the political fights of leftists and rightists, socialists and Zionists and a huge battle between populism and high-brow.”
Dr. Katz has written numerous articles, short stories and books on Yiddish language and culture, including Yiddish and Power (2015), Words on Fire: The Unfinished Story of Yiddish (2004; rev. ed. 2007) and The City in the Moonlight: Stories of the Old-Time Lithuanian Jews (2012) and he has developed the Oxford program in Yiddish at Oxford University, which has grown into an international program. Additionally, Dr. Katz is an activist working with the American Joint Distribution Committee on behalf of holocaust survivors and against holocaust deniers.
The Feigenson Lectureship is in honor of former English department professor Diane Feigenson who believed in exposing students to the value and beauty of Jewish Literature. As a professor at Fairfield University, she developed courses in Jewish Literature and Literature of the Holocaust.
“The first time she offered her course on Jewish literature, she began with some of the short stories of Yiddish writer Sholom Aleichem,” noted Ellen M. Umansky, PhD, director of the Bennett Center for Judaic Studies. “It is somehow fitting, I think, that we are opening the Diane Feigenson Lectureship in Jewish Literature with another Yiddishist: Dr. Katz.”
The lecture is sponsored by Fairfield University’s Carl and Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies. Reservations are requested. Please contact the Bennett Center for Judaic Studies at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 203-254-4000, ext. 2066. For more information about other Bennett Center events, visit www.fairfield.edu/bennett.