Allison SchachterFeb 24, 2022
Women Writing Jewish Modernity, 1919–1939
Northwestern University Press 2021
In Women Writing Jewish Modernity, 1919–1939 (Northwestern UP, 2021), Allison Schachter rewrites Jewish literary modernity from the point of view of women. Focusing on works by interwar Hebrew and Yiddish writers, Schachter illuminates how women writers embraced the transgressive potential of prose fiction to challenge the patriarchal norms of Jewish textual authority and reconceptualize Jewish cultural belonging.
Born in the former Russian and Austro‑Hungarian Empires and writing from their homes in New York, Poland, and Mandatory Palestine, the authors central to this book—Fradl Shtok, Dvora Baron, Elisheva Bikhovsky, Leah Goldberg, and Debora Vogel—seized on the freedoms of social revolution to reimagine Jewish culture beyond the traditionally male world of Jewish letters. The societies they lived in devalued women’s labor and denied them support for their work. In response, their writing challenged the social hierarchies that excluded them as women and as Jews. As she reads these women, Schachter upends the idea that literary modernity was a conversation among men about women, with a few women writers listening in. Women writers revolutionized the very terms of Jewish fiction at a pivotal moment in Jewish history, transcending the boundaries of Jewish minority identities. Schachter tells their story and in so doing calls for a new way of thinking about Jewish cultural modernity.
Lea Greenberg is a scholar of German studies with a particular focus on German Jewish and Yiddish literature and culture; critical gender studies; multilingualism; and literature of the post-Yugoslav diaspora.