YIVO Class by the Forward

YIVO winter courses cover tyranny, poetry and children’s literature

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For the ninth consecutive year the YIVO Institute will hold a series of intensive winter courses with Bard College. Unlike the annual YIVO summer program, which focuses nearly exclusively on Yiddish language and culture, the “Winter Program on Ashkenazi Civilization” includes a wider range of topics.

This year, the program is more expressly political than usual. As the YIVO Institute explained in a press release, it is responding to the rise of authoritarian regimes around the world by having historians teach courses about tyranny.

Timothy Snyder (Yale University), a renowned expert on fascism, will teach the course, “Tyranny and Freedom” explaining how the history of the Jews in the 20th century can be understood in light of the rise of today’s tyrannical regimes.

Jonathan Brent, the CEO of the YIVO Institute and an expert on Russian history, will teach the class “Stalin and Power” which explores how Stalin’s emergence as a dictator is portrayed in literature.

Richard Ovenden, the chief librarian of Oxford University, will teach a class on the purposeful destruction of libraries and archives throughout history.

On the literary front, Miriam Udel (Emory University) will teach a class on Yiddish children’s literature, highlighting how authors’ political and artistic motivations reflect the Jewish response to modernity.

Anita Norich (Michigan University) will teach the course, “Yiddish Politics and Poetics”, exploring how American-Yiddish poets like David Edelstadt, Malka Lee, Jacob Glatstein and Dora Teitelbaum reacted to labor disputes, protests, race relations and the growing divisions between American and world Jewry.

Ilan Stavans (Amherst College), an expert in Latin-American literature and an author and playwright in Yiddish, Spanish and English, will teach a class on Jorge Luis Borges’ philo-semitism. Participants will read excerpts from his work in class in order to see how Jewish themes are reflected in his writings.

The “Winter Program on Ashkenazi Civilization” runs from January 5-22. Participants can register until December 28.

YIVO winter courses cover tyranny, poetry and children’s literature

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