Sex, life, taboos: Intimate voices of Yiddish women writers (Zoom)

Monday 8.00–9.30pm
Thursday 10.30am–12.00pm
From: 11 July 2022
To: 15 September 2022
Hinde Ena Burstin

This course is a women’s circle learning group.

This ten-week Zoom course, led by Hinde Ena Burstin, delves into a diverse range of memoirs, poetry, fiction, critical reviews and essays by women, originally published in Yiddish, and presented in English translation. The course will run in two streams:

Evening stream: runs Mondays 8.00pm – 9.30pm, commencing 11 July and concluding 12 September.

Morning stream: runs Thursdays 10:30am – 12.00pm, commencing 14 July and concluding 15 September.

You will enrol in one stream and attend at the same time each week.

In the early 20th century, as modernist literature brought the private into the public sphere, Yiddish women writers published intimate explorations of taboos in Jewish life. This searingly candid and sensuous writing, an innovation in Yiddish literature, defied social, religious and literary expectations.

In this course, we will examine some of these intimate voices. We will delve into memoirs, poetry, fiction, critical reviews and essays by women, originally published in Yiddish, and presented in English translation. We will study translated works that address themes of sex, desire, pleasure, pain and abuse, by writers including Celia Dropkin, Fradl Shtok, Malka Lee and Rashel Veprinski. We will explore critical themes and stylistics in this daring writing. These works will be contextualised within the circumstances in which they were created, circulated and translated, as well as the biographies of the individual authors.

Classes will be conducted in English. All materials will be studied in English translation, with poems also presented in Yiddish. Source texts in Yiddish will be available on request. No prior knowledge of Yiddish or Jewish culture is required.

Facilitator: Hinde Ena Burstin is an acclaimed teacher, who has taught Yiddish and Yiddish literature courses in Melbourne, Sydney and New York, and in international intensive programs. She has given guest lectures on Yiddish literature in New York, Boston, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Chicago, Montreal, Paris, Brussels, Cape Town, Sydney and Melbourne, including at Harvard University and Columbia University. She is a scholar of Yiddish literature, specialising in Yiddish writing by women, and has published widely on Yiddish women writers, and on translation. She is also an internationally published and performed Yiddish writer and translator, whose own work most recently appeared in Yiddish with English translation in Tsvelf far Ukraine, Queer Yiddish Camp, Durkh a modne gloz and London Yiddish café. Hinde Ena worked for many years as a community worker in the fields of sexuality and gender-based violence. She draws on her experience in these fields to create a sensitive and supportive environment for exploring these themes in Yiddish literature.

The Zoom link will be emailed to attendees ahead of the first session.

Image: Series 02: Dr Fanny Reading photographs, ca. 1890-1965 / various photographers, courtesy State Library of NSW


Museum members: $205
Non-Members: $235
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