The CSSC kicked off its Fall 2014 lineup of lectures on Oct. 27 with a lively presentation on “Archives, Bedrooms, and the Future of Yiddish” by Zohar Weiman-Kelman, currently an Anne Tanenbaum Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. The event was co-sponsored by the UC Berkeley Center for Jewish Studies and the Department of Comparative Literature.
Weiman-Kelman presented before a packed audience that included Weiman-Kelman’s former colleagues from the Dept. of Comparative Literature where she completed her PhD in 2012, as well as dissertation advisers Professors Judith Butler (Comparative Literature & Rhetoric), Chana Kronfeld (Comparative Literature & Near Eastern Studies), and Naomi Seidman of the Graduate Theological Union. The young scholar enlightened and entertained listeners with insights from her ongoing research that brings together multiple archives on Yiddish sexuality, in a performance that Judith Butler described in the Q & A as very funny and with “maybe a little bit of Yiddish theater in the talk itself.”
Weiman-Kelman’s lecture focused mainly on the work of two Yiddish linguists, Max Weinreich (1894-1969) and Mordkhe Schaechter (1927-2007), who both dedicated particular attention to the question of Jewish sexuality in Yiddish. She also touched upon the work of Dr. Leonard Landes and his sexology manual in Yiddish, Zind Gegen di Natur (Sins Against Nature, 1910). You can find the talk abstract and speaker bio at the original event listing. An audio recording of the talk appears below and can be accessed on the CSSC SoundCloud channel.
The recording begins just after the start of the talk, so here is the first sentence:
“My talk today will bring together multiple projects of Yiddish sexuality from across the twentieth century, taking early steps in exploring the potential of a queer Yiddish archive situated at the confluence between sexual expression and the development, and decline, of the Yiddish language. I am broadly thinking about a project that queerly denaturalizes both language and sexuality by examining their mutual construction . . .”