Modern Yiddish literary studies: A shifting landscape

Hana Wirth-Nesher*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This introductory essay maps significant contributions to the study of modern Yiddish literature over the past two decades. Studies of Yiddish modernism have tended to focus on three aspects of this literature: continuity through the use of traditional, mythic, and ethnographic sources; rupture expressed through alienation in modernity; and the intersection and dialogue with models of modern literature in a comparative context. Furthermore, Max Weinreich's contention that the process of fusion in Yiddish language formation did not stop with its creation but is continuous and cumulative, is also evident in recent studies of modern Yiddish literature that pay close attention to linguistic dimensions of Yiddish writing. This is exemplified by the subjects that have engaged scholars of modern Yiddish literature over the past two decades: canon formation, translation theory and practice, "postvernacular" language, and multilingual poetics. A brief overview of the essays in this special issue demonstrates the unique historical, linguistic, and literary features of Yiddish that offer new opportunities for exploring translation, poetics, hermeneutics, literary history, reading practices, commemorative sites in print, and intercultural relations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-224
Number of pages14
JournalPoetics Today
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2014


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