Imagining Russian Jewry: Memory, History, Identity

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University of Washington Press, Nov 21, 2013 - Social Science - 152 pages
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This subtle, unusual book explores the many, often overlapping ways in which the Russian Jewish past has been remembered in history, in literature, and in popular culture. Drawing on a wide range of sources including novels, plays, and archival material Imagining Russian Jewry is a reflection on reading, collective memory, and the often uneasy, and also uncomfortably intimate, relationships that exist between seemingly incompatible ways of seeing the past. The book also explores what it means to produce scholarship on topics that are deeply personal: its anxieties, its evasions, and its pleasures.

Zipperstein, a leading expert in modern Jewish history, explores the imprint left by the Russian Jewish past on American Jews starting from the turn of the twentieth century, considering literature ranging from immigrant novels to Fiddler on the Roof. In Russia, he finds nostalgia in turn-of-the-century East European Jewry itself, in novels contrasting Jewish life in acculturated Odessa with the more traditional shtetls. The book closes with a provocative call for a greater awareness regarding how the Holocaust has influenced scholarship produced since the Shoah.

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Despite negative images of tsarist repression, pogroms, and the Holocaust, Russia, argues Zipperstein (Jewish studies, Stanford Univ.), has become a source of nostalgia and "a self-reflective ... Read full review

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About the author (2013)

Steven J. Zipperstein is Daniel E. Koshland Professor in Jewish Culture and History and the Taube Director of Jewish Studies at Stanford University. Among his previous publications are the award-winning books The Jews of Odessa: A Cultural History and Elusive Prophet: Ahad Ha am and the Origins of Zionism. He is the editor of Jewish Social Studies: History, Culture, and Society.

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