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Jewish women writers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries lived with a sense of painful connection to a culture that rejected their aspirations. Raised in a Jewish environment wary of female aspirations and in a wider world that was only marginally more sympathetic to their ambitions, this diverse group often found that a life devoted to literary expression required sacrifices and painful choices. Writing, however, enabled them to reclaim and explore their Jewish heritage.
Responding to a variety of Jewish women's voices in Hebrew, Yiddish, English, and Spanish, this collection of seventeen essays surveys the achievements of Jewish women writers from the Middle Ages to the present.
Scholars of Jewish literature chronicle the Jewish encounter with modernity and document female strategies for constructing intellectual and emotional identities amidst the competing demands of traditional norms, familial obligations, and economic survival.
The themes of repression and equivocal liberation resonate throughout, as the authors reflect on the silencing of the female voice in a traditional Jewish culture that most often denied women the education and the empowerment requisite for recording their thoughts and feelings. While individual essays reveal literary discoveries of self and forgings of identity by women rising to the opportunities and challenges of drastically altered Jewish social realities, a significant number also show the sad decline of women writers upon whom silence was reimposed. Several chapters consider how Jewish women were depicted by male writers from the Middle Ages through the mid-nineteenth
century. A final essay documents the ways in which memory, testimony, and survival affect the writing of women who survived the Holocaust, a perspective frequently marginalized in studies of Holocaust literature.
Women of the Word is part of an emerging effort to listen to the voices of Jewish women both past and present. Written in a period when Jewish women writers internationally are creating a wealth of diverse literary works, these essays take note of the short time during which Jewish women's writing has flourished and inspire readers with the richness of the literature that such writers have already produced.
|1||Women of the Word: An Introduction||17|
|2||Images of Women in Medieval Hebrew Literature||35|
|3||Finding Women's Voices in Italian Jewish Literature||50|
|4||Yiddish Literature and the Female Reader||70|
|5||Dvora Baron: Daughter of the Shtetl||91|
|6||Culture and Radical Politics: Yiddish Women Writers in America, 1890-1940||111|
|7||Canon and Gender: Women Poets in Two Modern Yiddish Anthologies||136|
|8||Looking at Yezierska||153|
|9||Mother at the Center: Jewish American Women's Stories of the 1920s||182|
|10||Matrilineal Dissent: The Rhetoric of Zeal in Emma Lazarus, Marie Syrkin, and Cynthia Ozick||197|
|11||Expressing and Repressing the Female Voice in S. Y. Agnon's In The Prime of Her Life||216|
|12||The Naked Land: Nature in the Poetry of Esther Raab||236|
|13||Memory and Testimony of Women Survivors of Nazi Genocide||258|
|14||Cynthia Ozick: Prophet for Parochialism||283|
|15||Jewish Women Writers in Latin America||299|
|16||Feminism Under Siege: The Vicarious Selves of Israeli Women Writers||323|
|17||From "Data Processing" to "Sex, Car and Love Later": The Poetry of Maya Bejerano||343|