Himel Family Yiddish Lecture Series
Co-sponsored by the Al and Malka Green Fund in Yiddish Studies
Joanna Degler (University of Wroclaw)
"Der aroysgang funem froyen-vinkl, dos heyst: vi azoy hobn di froyen funktsionirt in der menersiher velt fun der yidisher literatur"
For centuries, writing has been one of the few avenues available for women to make their voices heard in the public sphere. My lecture will present an overview of the strategies women used to break their way into the sphere of the printed Yiddish word: from annotations in the margins of books, and poems smuggled into the press in the guise of letters from readers, to the question of how relations with men were or were needed as leverage for getting published. Women writers and poets were not, needless to say, treated as equal partners in the male empire of Yiddish press and literature. Wedged into their froyen-vinkl, their “women’s corner,” women could expect condescension rather than actual recognition for their work. It is no coincidence that the seat of the Union of Jewish Writers and Journalists in Warsaw was described as a secular besmedresh, that is, a traditionally typical male institution. Finding a voice in the besmedresh of secular Yiddish literature was no easy task, and even more difficult was ensuring that this voice had a meaningful and important part in the discussion. And yet they succeeded, oftentimes resorting to camouflage, at times openly manifesting their creative independence, all the while contending with unfavorable criticism.
Joanna Degler (Lisek) is a literature scholar, translator, and faculty member at the Taube Department of Jewish Studies at the University of Wrocław. Her main focus is on Jewish poetry and Yiddish culture, with a focus on women. She is the author of the monographs: Jung Wilne – żydowska grupa artystyczna [Yung Vilne, A Jewish Artistic Group, Wrocław 2005] and Kol isze – głos kobiet w poezji jidysz (od XVI w. do 1939 r.) [Kol ishe - The Voice of Women in Yiddish Poetry from the 16th Century to 1939, Sejny 2018], and the editor of the volumes: Nieme dusze? Kobiety w kulturze jidysz [Silent Souls? Women in Yiddish Culture, Wrocław 2010] and Mykwa. Rytuał i historia [Mikveh - Ritual and History, Wrocław 2014]. She co-edited, with Karolina Szymaniak and Bella Szwarcman-Czarnota, Moja dzika koza. Antologia poetek jidysz [My Wild Goat. Anthology of Women Yiddish Poets, Kraków 2018]. In addition to the work of poets from Yiddish, she has translated into Polish works by, among others, Puah
Rakovsky, Yente Serdatzky, and Chava Rosenfarb. Degler is the editor of the Żydzi. Polska. Autobiografia [Jews. Poland. Autobiography] series, which by 2023 will publish over 20 volumes of Jewish autobiographical literature, translated into Polish from Yiddish, Hebrew, German, Russian, as well as memoirs written originally in Polish.
This event is conducted entirely in Yiddish.
This lecture will be delivered ONLY virtually via Zoom. To attend virtually, please click THIS LINK on Tuesday, March 28, at 1PM.