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Soviet Jewish Bookshelf

October 16, 2023 @ 5:30 pm

Kaplan Brauer Lecture in Jewish Studies with Marat Grinberg, Reed College
Co-sponsored by the Carolina Center for Eastern European Studies

October, 16, 2023, 5:30pm, in-person event.
UNC Sonja Haynes Stone Center, Hitchcock Multipurpose Room.
Directions & Parking in Bell Tower Deck ($1 after 5pm)
Free and open to the public.
UNC Heel Life Credit will be available.
Additional details will be posted in August.


The Soviet Jewish Bookshelf: Its Authors and Readers

The study of Soviet Jewish culture and collective psyche presents a fascinating yet still little known subject of inquiry. Frequently subject to quotas and varying degrees of discrimination, Soviet Jews still participated fully within the larger society. Most were secular, with Russian as their native or primary tongue, and with no or very little knowledge of Judaic practice, which the state firmly opposed. Without spaces to gather or material culture to hold on to, cultural memory, practices, and thought were formed and disseminated on the page, often “between the lines.” In this environment, where Judaism had been all but destroyed, and a public Jewish presence routinely delegitimized, reading provided many Soviet Jews with an entry to communal memory and identity. Marat Grinberg’s talk, based on his recent book, The Soviet Jewish Bookshelf: Jewish Culture and Identity Between the Lines, will explore the texts that Soviet Jews kept in their home libraries, from historical fiction to translations from German, Yiddish and Hebrew to Russian novels with subterranean context to science fiction, and help to uncover the originality and central dimensions of Soviet Jewishness.


Marat Grinberg emigrated to the United States from Ukraine in 1993, studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. A scholar of Jewish and Russian literature and culture and of cinema, he is a Professor of Russian and humanities at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Grinberg is the author of “I am to Be Read not from Left to Right, but in Jewish: from Right to Left”: The Poetics of Boris Slutsky (2011), published in the Russian translation in 2020, Aleksandr Askoldov: The Commissar (2016), and co-editor of Woody on Rye: Jewishness in the Films and Plays of Woody Allen (2013). Marat Grinberg’s most recent essays have appeared in Tablet MagazineMosaic, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. He lectures widely on topics ranging from Holocaust literature and film to Jewish-Russian poetry. Grinberg’s latest book, published by Brandeis University Press’s Tauber Institute Series for the Study of European Jewry, is The Soviet Jewish Bookshelf: Jewish Culture and Identity Between the Lines. He is currently working on an annotated translation of Mikhail Goldis’s Memoirs of a Jewish Public Prosecutor from Soviet Ukraine and a study of Jewishness in Russian, Ukrainian, and East European science fiction of the Soviet era.


October 16, 2023
5:30 pm


Sonja Haynes Stone Center, Hitchcock Multipurpose Room
150 South Road
Chapel Hill, NC 27514 United States
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