Women in Yiddish Literature
Taught by Anita Norich, Professor Emerita, University of Michigan

Three Session Mini-Course

Funded by the Sagner Family Foundation

Soviet JewryThis three-part series considers how Yiddish literature written by women addresses Yiddish works that reflect on a range of questions about class, sexuality, family relations, immigration, politics, economics, and more. Many critics used to claim that women wrote primarily poetry or memoirs in Yiddish. Why might this be so? Increasingly, though, novels and short stories by women writers have also become available in English translation. Why were these works largely ignored? The course will explore how a range of female writers responded to tradition and to the opportunities and challenges of the modern world. 


Session Materials:

Session 1 - November 29
     Reading Materials     
          Tkhines
          Brokhes, "The Zogerin"
          Margolin, "Once I Was Young"
     Session 1 Recording

Session 2 - December 6
     Reading Materials
          Fradel Shtok, "The Veil"
          Tussman poems
          Dropkin, "The Acrobat"
     Session 2 Recording

Session 3 - December 13
     Reading Materials          
          Kreitman, "The New World"
          Malke Lee, "God's Black Lamb"
          Molodovsky, "God of Mercy"
          Tussman, "In Spite"
     Session 3 Recording


Jonathan Dekel Chen

Anita Norich is Tikva Frymer-Kensky Collegiate Professor Emerita of English and Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan.  Her most recent book, A Jewish Refugee in New York (2019), is a translation of a Yiddish novel by Kadya Molodovsky. She is also the author of Writing in Tongues: Yiddish Translation in the 20th Century (2013), Discovering Exile: Yiddish and Jewish American Literature in America During the Holocaust (2007), The Homeless Imagination in the Fiction of Israel Joshua Singer (1991); and co-editor of Languages of Modern Jewish Cultures: Comparative Perspectives (2016), Jewish Literatures and Cultures: Context and Intertext (2008), and Gender and Text in Modern Hebrew and Yiddish Literatures (1992).  She translates Yiddish literature, and teaches, lectures, and publishes on a range of topics concerning modern Jewish cultures, Yiddish language and literature, Jewish American literature, and Holocaust literature.


Top Image: A Yiddish literary sisterhood, defying the almost uniformly male face of so many Yiddish writers’ groups and institutions. Back row (from right to left): Berta Kling, Esther Shumiatsher, Malka Lee. Front row (from right to left): Ida Glazer, Sara Reyzen, and Celia Dropkin, Image from the archives of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, New York. "Young, Gifted and Yiddish" by David Mazower. (Yiddish Book Center)