Language, Nation, and Modernity: Hebrew in Europe, 1800 to the present
A joint King’s-UCL international workshop
London, 12–13 May 2014
Co-organized by Lily Kahn (UCL) and Andrea Schatz (King’s College London)
Academic advisors:Israel Bartal (Hebrew University) and Lewis Glinert (Dartmouth College)
Call for Papers
The Hebrew language played a vital role in Jewish religious, political and cultural life in modern Europe.
The Enlightenment project of renewing the Hebrew language as the idiom of the Jewish nation in the diaspora signaled the commitment of the maskilim to continuity as well as change. In the nineteenth century, the Hebrew language remained relevant for Jews and Jewish self-assertion in Western Europe as well as Eastern Europe, and it became a central aspect in the development of various forms of Jewish nationalism.
In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the Hebrew language continues to be present in European Jewish religious practice and thought, in literature, the arts, architecture and the media as a central feature of Jewish identity, nourished by the modern life of Hebrew in Israel and by the many ways in which the language facilitates access to religious as well as cultural traditions.
Yet, it has often been asserted that Hebrew lost its centrality in Jewish life in Western Europe when, after 1800, Jews adopted the vernaculars of the emerging nation states, and that it only regained momentum with the rise of the East European Haskalah and early Zionism in the middle of the nineteenth century.
Similarly, although the religious and cultural centrality of Hebrew to Jews in Eastern Europe has never been questioned, scholars have tended to consider Eastern European varieties of Hebrew as inferior and have therefore badly neglected them; instead, research has focused largely on the revernacularization project in Palestine and the development of Israeli Hebrew.
This situation was challenged already two decades ago, in Lewis Glinert’s volume Hebrew in Ashkenaz with its introductory research agenda and by Israel Bartal’s contributions to the linguistic and cultural analysis of Ashkenazic Hebrew and the various traditions that informed its renewal in the nineteenth century.
In recent years there has been a growing recognition that Modern Hebrew emerged as the result of complex interactions between Jewish and other national and cultural movements in Europe before it became the language of the Yishuv. There is also a growing interest in the ongoing transmission of Modern Hebrew as a vital component of Jewish life in the diaspora following the emergence of Israeli Hebrew.
This workshop aims to bring together scholars who have contributed to this renewed interest in the European dimension of Modern Hebrew and are conducting research on a variety of issues relating to this topic. We invite proposals for papers of approximately 20 minutes on themes including (but not limited to) the following:
linguistic aspects of Hebrew in Europe, e.g. its relationship to earlier strata of the language, influence of Yiddish and other European languages, the links between various synchronic forms of European Hebrew (Hasidic, Maskilic, etc.
translingual practices, e.g. the continued use of Hebrew as a component of European vernaculars among Jewish speakers and the relationship between Hebrew, Yiddish and the vernaculars in Jewish cultural, literary and political practices
transnational practices, e.g. the role of Hebrew in Jewish intellectual, scholarly and literary communication across European boundaries
Christian Orientalism and Hebrew language politics
the role of Hebrew in Sephardic Europe and contacts between Sephardic and Ashkenazic Hebrew movements
the Hebrew language as reflecting and shaping internal diversity (e.g. religious and secular, urban and rural, gender and class identities)
Hebrew language practices in their relation to Jewish interpretations of diaspora, nation, citizenship and belonging
the competition between Yiddish and Hebrew nationalisms and its impact on negotiations about the meanings of the Hebrew language
Hebrew in Europe as it reflects and shapes relationships to the Yishuv and to Israel.
The organizing institutions will cover two nights’ accommodation and will be able to provide a number of bursaries to cover travel expenses.
Please submit proposals (300 words) with a short CV and indication of whether you would like to be considered for a bursary to Mr Steffan Mathias (firstname.lastname@example.org) by Thursday 12 September 2013.