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Native Americans in the Jewish Imagination
September 16, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm$18
ABOUT THIS LECTURE: How did Jewish immigrants to the United States imagine themselves at home in their new country? How did Jews identify with “America”? The figure of the imaginary Indian has long functioned in the American cultural imagination as an object both of vilification and romantic longing, frequently in relation to governmental policies towards actual Native tribes and communities. It is not surprising then that the figure of the American Indian loomed large in the Jewish imagination as well. This lecture describes a long and varied history of Jewish immigrant fascination with the indigenous peoples of the Americas, seeing in them a mirror for Jews’ own anxieties about tribal and national belonging. Ranging across multiple languages, and geographical locations, this lecture offers an introduction to an unexpectedly rich and complex history of actual and imagined interactions between Jews and Indians.
ABOUT THIS SPEAKER: Professor Rachel Rubinstein is professor of American literature and Jewish studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, received her B.A. in English from Yale University and her Ph.D. from the Department of English and American Literature and Language at Harvard University. She has been teaching at Hampshire College since 2003. Her teaching and research interests focus on migration, multilingualism, comparative ethnicity and racial formation. She has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship (2013-14) and a Whiting Foundation Travel Fellowship (2017-18), among other grants, in recognition and support of innovative teaching in the humanities, and has taught both adult learners and high school students through community organizations like the Amherst public library and the Yiddish Book Center. Her scholarly work includes two co-edited volumes, Arguing the Modern Jewish Canon: Essays on Literature and Culture in Honor of Ruth R. Wisse (Harvard University Press, 2008), and the forthcoming Teaching Jewish-American Literature (MLA Publications Committee, 2019). She is the author of Members of the Tribe: Native America in the Jewish Imagination (Wayne State University Press, 2010), which earned a Jordan Schnitzer Book Award Honorable Mention.