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VIA ZOOM: Discussion with Gabrielle Safran

Sunday, January 31, 2021 18 Sh'vat 5781

9:30 AM - 12:00 PMPlease register below and the Zoom link will be sent to you in an email

Gabriella Safran on Dybbuks, Golems, S. An-sky and Jewish Legends in Time of Fear

S. An-sky’s play The Dybbuk, a story of possession set in a shtetl (think The Exorcist meets Fiddler on the Roof), is the foundation of modern Jewish drama. Stanford scholar Gabriella Safran will explore The Dybbuk’s roots: in Jewish folklore, the scandalous blood libel trial in Kiev in 1913, and the political passions of Russian-Jewish revolutionaries. In composing the play, An-sky was torn between two Jewish myths, each still modern: the tragic ambivalence of the dybbuk, a lost, wandering soul, and the technological triumphalism of the golem, a robot set in motion by practical kabbalah and capable of defending the Jews from every harm.


Gabriella Safran, the Eva Chernov Lokey Professor in Jewish Studies at Stanford University, teaches in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. Gabriella Safran has written on Russian, Polish, Yiddish and French literatures and cultures. She is the author and editor of prize-winning books on how Russian novels describe Jewish assimilation and on the relation between Jewish literature and anthropology. Her biography of a pioneering Russian-Jewish writer, ethnographer, and revolutionary, Wandering Soul: The Dybbuk’s Creator, S. An-sky, was published by Harvard University Press in 2010. Safran is finishing a book on listening, transcription, and verbal imitation across class lines in the mid-19th-century Russian Empire, and is working on a book about the international pre-history of the Jewish joke.

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Mon, January 25 2021 12 Sh'vat 5781