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Viewing convention Program information from 2009

Session Details

Sunday, 27 December

84. Does the English Department Have a Jewish Problem?

7:00–8:15 p.m., 307, Philadelphia Marriott

A special session

Presiding: Lori Harrison-Kahan, Boston Coll.

Presider's Annotation:
This roundtable brings together scholars of American and Jewish culture to discuss the place of Jewish literature in the 21st-century English department and specifically within the field of American literary studies. The goal of the session is to open up a discussion about the challenges facing the field of Jewish American literature, and to use this analysis as a catalyst for new approaches that will reinvigorate and redefine the field. Drawing on their professional experiences and knowledge of institutional and disciplinary history, the participants will address the following questions:

What are the disciplinary and institutional factors that have led to the continued marginalization of American Jewish literature? Or are there alternative ways of understanding the place of American Jewish literature in English departments other than assuming that it remains peripheral?

Have recent theoretical and critical developments (such as whiteness studies, transnational studies, comparative ethnic studies, and translation studies) created new opportunities for the study of Jewish writers within English departments? Or does Jewish literature continue to undermine the standard categories and paradigms?

How do departments decide to hire faculty whose research and teaching focuses on Jewish American literature? How do departments decide to offer courses in American Jewish literature, and what are, or should be, the minimum qualifications for teaching them? What challenges (political, cultural, linguistic) arise from teaching such courses that might help us understand and evaluate the intellectual biases limiting the development of Jewish American literature as a significant field?

Please note that although the program lists participants alphabetically, opening remarks will be presented in the following order:

Josh Lambert
Benjamin Schreier
Rachel Rubinstein
Warren Hoffman
Martha Cutter
Jonathan Freedman

Speakers: Martha J. Cutter, Univ. of Connecticut, Storrs; Jonathan E. Freedman, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Warren D. Hoffman, Temple Univ., Philadelphia; Joshua Lambert, New York Univ.; Rachel Rubinstein, Hampshire Coll.; Benjamin Schreier, Penn State Univ., University Park

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