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Yiddish Ethnography and An-Ski

Hosted By: YIVO

Sh. An-ski (Shloyme-Zanvl Rappoport, 1863-1920), was a writer in Russian and Yiddish, a revolutionary, a wartime relief worker, and an ethnographer who studied the Jews of the Russian empire. During his 1911-1914 expeditions to shtetls in Ukraine, he would report, he and his co-workers took 1000 photographs, recorded 1000 Yiddish songs and 1500 stories, and purchased 400 objects for a Jewish museum. The expedition also inspired An-ski to write his signature play, The Dybbuk. Although East European Jews used ethnographic tools to study themselves both before and after An-ski’s expeditions, he retains an outsize status in the field of Yiddish ethnography, strongly tied to the success of his play. This talk explores the connections between An-ski’s ethnographic work, his play, and the Russian politics of his era. This event will take place on Zoom as part of YIVO’s 2021 Yiddish Civilization Lecture Series.

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Teacher

Gabriella Safran

Eva Chernov Lokey Professor in Jewish Studies, Slavic Languages and Literatures (Stanford University) Gabriella Safran has written on Russian, Polish, Yiddish, and French literatures and cultures. Her most recent monograph, Wandering Soul: The Dybbuk's Creator, S. An-sky (Harvard, 2010), is a biography of an early-twentieth-century Russian-Yiddish writer who was also an ethnographer, a revolutionary, and a wartime relief worker. Safran teaches and writes on Russian literature, Yiddish literature, folklore, and folkloristics. She is now working on two monograph projects: one on how people in the Russian Empire listened across social lines, recorded and imitated others’ voices in various media, and reflected on listening and vocal imitation, from the 1830s to the 1880s, and the other on the international pre-history of the Jewish joke.
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Host

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YIVO

The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research is dedicated to the preservation and study of the history and culture of Eastern European Jewry and Yiddish language.
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