Curious Daughters: Language, Literacy, and Jewish Female Desire in German and Yiddish Literature from 1793 to 1916


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Germanic & Slavic Languages & Literature


This project examines the interplay between language politics and romantic politics in German-Jewish and Yiddish literature, confronting the social dynamics of Jewish assimilation into wider European culture. It uses literary case studies from the Jewish Enlightenment in the late eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries. Each work uses a concern with the sexual purity and loyalty of the Jewish daughter to depict anxieties toward Jewish assimilation into the non-Jewish world. But these texts also share another layer of her subversion: a rebellious act in the form of a linguistic or cultural departure from tradition. “Curious Daughters” considers how these dynamics stage the ambivalence of a departure from Jewish tradition and brings them into conversation with the sociolinguistics of Jewish language usage and the history of Jewish women in Europe.