Davis Center: The Books Soviet Jews Read: Unpacking the Soviet Jewish Bookshelf


Wednesday, September 21, 2016, 4:15pm to 6:00pm


CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge Street, S153

The description of Soviet Jews as “Jews of Silence,” in Elie Wiesel’s famous formulation, can no longer be considered valid. Despite the fact that in the post-war Soviet Union, Judaism was all but destroyed and the very public presence of the Jew delegitimized, Jewish memory and identity continued to exist and develop through subversive and implicit reading practices, creating a phenomenon of the Soviet Jewish bookshelf. These volumes gave Soviet Jews an opportunity to assert their separate identity in a largely safe and yet insubordinate manner and equipped them with a selective Jewish knowledge base. The talk, part of a larger manuscript project, will introduce key diverse parts of the “shelf”: from the historical novels of Lion Feuchtwanger to the first Hebrew-Russian dictionary and Israel guidebook to the science-fiction works by the Strugatsky brothers.

Marat Grinberg received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and is Associate Professor of Russian and Humanities at Reed College. He 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) and co-editor of Woody on Rye: Jewishness in the Films and Plays of Woody Allen (2013). His most recent essays on modern Jewish literature and cinema have appeared inCommentaryTablet MagazineShofar, and Post Script: Essays in Film and the Humanities. His forthcoming book is Aleksandr Askol'dov: The Commissar, a study of the great banned Soviet film.


Marat Grinberg, Associate Professor of Russian and Humanities, Reed College

Sponsored by the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies.

For more information, please call 617-495-4037.