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Mayrent Research Seminar: “Jewish Primitivism: Der Nister’s Literary Abstractions”

December 1 @ 4:00 pm - 5:15 pm

Fall 2022 Research Seminar of The Mayrent Institute for Yiddish Culture

On Thursday, December 1st at 4:00 pm in the CJS Conference Room (4233 Humanities), we will be welcoming Professor Samuel Spinner (Johns Hopkins). Professor Spinner will present a chapter from his recent publication Jewish Primitivism (Stanford University Press, 2021).

This event will be limited to 16 participants and is open only to faculty and students (students at all levels are welcome).
If you are interested in joining the conversation, please RSVP to yudkoff@wisc.edu bMonday, November 28th


Seminar Abstract: “Jewish Primitivism: Der Nister’s Literary Abstractions”

Professor Samuel Spinner will present an overview of his recent publication Jewish Primitivism (Stanford University Press, 2021) along with an example of Jewish primitivism at its extreme: the short stories of the Yiddish writer Der Nister. Der Nister drew on Yiddish folklore as a resource for the creation of abstract works of literature that mirrored developments in visual art most familiar from Cubism. The kaleidoscopic and disorienting landscape of Der Nister’s stories was the result of a primitivist aesthetics that fused Jewish sources with the universalist claims of his revolutionary politics.

About the Speaker

Samuel Spinner is the Zelda and Myer Tandetnik Assistant Professor of Yiddish Language, Literature, and Culture at Johns Hopkins University. His book Jewish Primitivism, on primitivism in modern Jewish literature, photography, and graphic art, was published in 2021 by Stanford University Press. He is currently researching a book on the aesthetics of monumentality in Holocaust museums and literature.  His work has appeared in PMLA, MLN, Prooftexts, and German Quarterly. Spinner is a co-editor of “German Jewish Cultures,” a book series published by Indiana University Press and serves on the editorial board of the Yiddish Studies journal In Geveb.


December 1
4:00 pm - 5:15 pm