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Yiddish Tango

A Musical Genre?

Lloica Czackis

The tango was born just before the turn of the twentieth century in Buenos Aires as the resulting blend of the cultures of Italian, Spanish, French and Eastern European Jewish immigrants and Afro-Argentine rhythms. In the 1910s the tango took Western Europe by storm, soon reaching Eastern Europe. Ballrooms and cabarets featured this Latin American import; composers, Jews amongst them, started to write new tangos. Inevitably, during the Holocaust tango became part of the life of ghettos and concentration camps, where it, now in Yiddish, was once again adopted as a vehicle to express the experience of inmates and their hopes for freedom. Not only did the Nazis allow this music, they forced Lagerkapellen, the camp orchestras, to play the Tango of Death to accompany prisoners as they were marched to the gas chambers. In different and happier circumstances, Jewish musicians living in Buenos Aires and New York – many of whom were émigrés – wrote Yiddish tangos for the Yiddish theatre, musicals and Jewish revues. The mixed nature of tango probably explains why it has been continuously embraced and transformed during its extraordinary voyage around the world. Yiddish tangos are only an episode in this chronicle, an example of the Jews' tendency to adapt to the ethos of their adoptive countries and also, more generally, the mutual acceptance and fruitful interaction between peoples.

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Florence Rochefort

In the French polemics over the Islamic headscarf, the relationship betweensecularism and sexual equality has sometimes been made out to be an artificialone. The articulation between politics, religion, secularism, and women'srights is examined here over the longue durée. Since the beginning of the secularizationprocess during the French Revolution, a minority has championedan egalitarian conception of secularization. Rivalries between or convergencesof political and religious authorities have driven an ambivalent and not veryequal secularization, creating secular pacts that rely on gender pacts to thedetriment of equality. This dynamic reversed itself beginning in the 1960swith the battle for legal contraception and abortion, which shook one of thevery bases of French Catholicism to its foundation. The headscarf affairsrevealed the egalitarian effects of secularism and favored the elaboration ofthought about secularism in conjunction with sexual equality, which, whateverthe various interpretations of that thought may be, could prove to be anon-negligible benefit.

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Introduction

Literature of the Thirties – Region and Genre

Mary Joannou

The second special issue on the literature of the thirties follows on from an earlier edition of Critical Survey which brought together new critical writings on the period (volume 10, number 3, 1988). The first four essays selected are responses to regionalism and identity and the last two to the issues raised by the relationships of gender and generic fiction. Simon Featherstone analyses how two popular artistes, Gracie Fields (the ‘mill girl’) and Max Miller (‘the cheeky chappie’) achieved success in an entertainment industry that was changing rapidly in response to technological and cultural pressures. Their stardom depended on the dialogues between regional and national identities as part of a national cultural dynamic during a decade in which mass popular forms reconstituted the older regional and local traditions of dialogue and performance. Steven Matthews sees Auden’s injunction to ‘Consider this and in our time’ as a ‘clarion call to a particular, post-The Waste Land, form of modernity’. Focusing on Scottish and Irish writers (Louis MacNeice, Sorley Maclean, Grassic Gibbon et al.) Matthews argues that the temporality of some thirties’ writing aligns it closely with the emergent nationalisms familiar in recent postcolonial theory.

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Steven Sher, Larry Lefkowitz, Erica Adler, Robin Beth Schaer, Richard Fein, Robert Weinberg, Anne Blonstein, Jacqueline Karp-Genre, Marsha Pomerantz, and Shirley Kaufman

Finding the Words

The Creation of the World

Night Funeral

Cowboy Rules

Desert Ships

For Three Killed by Stalin

First Edward

Bagels without Lox

Tree

Hubris

Unfinished Poem

Yael

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Greg M. Smith

This article argues that an emphasis on how spectators piece together documentary structure is more useful than nonfiction film theory's focus on epistemology and categorization. By examining individual texts such as The Aristocrats, critics can develop a set of devices that provide a better explanation of documentary comprehension at the local level. As an example, this article shows how a spectatorial position as an insider in the comedy world and the device of the "conversational turn" help us both segment the documentary flow and unify it.

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A “Steady Eye” in “A Moving World”

Comparative Perspectives on Travel Writing and Ethnography

Jörg Lehmann and Thomas Stodulka

How can travel books and narrative ethnography be compared? This article systematically examines the works of an eminent travel writer and an anthropologist with respect to paratexts, themes, lexis, named entities, and narrative positions. It combines quantitative methods with a close reading of three books. The article discusses whether a mixed-methods approach of close reading and quantitative analysis can be applied to comparing larger corpora of travel writing and ethnography.

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Angela Shaw-Thornburg

African-American literature of travel has frequently been elided from critical accounts of literary travel narratives and made invisible within the African-American literary canon. Reading both traditions with an eye to including African-American literature of travel is important because it allows for a greater focus on the transnational roots of African-American identity, particularly in terms of African-American literature of travel that focuses on journeys to Europe.

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The Detective Novel in Ladino

Clues to a Little Known Genre

Julie Scolnik

The end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth saw the emergence of the detective novel in Europe and in the United States and it soon became a social phenomenon. In the countries pertaining to the Ottoman Empire the Sephardim were no exception; they, too, were avid readers of these detective novels. As was true of much of the literature published in Ladino at this time, these novels were translated from other languages. They were aljamiados, that is to say written in Hebrew script and published in Salonica. In most cases each novel was about forty pages long and generally published as a separate book, although some novels were published in instalments in the Ladino newspapers of the time.

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Women's Travel Narratives in Early Modern Japan

Genre Imperatives, Gender Consciousness and Status Questioning

Laura Nenzi

In the two and a half centuries of Tokugawa rule (1600–1868) Japan underwent profound transformations of an economic, social, political and cultural nature. What began as an era of warrior rule, of apparently strict application of the law and of theoretically impenetrable social compartments evolved at a fast pace into a time when popular culture attained unprecedented brilliance, the samurai’s identity as fighters was virtually nullified and money often supplanted rank in mediating access to services. In this environment, travel and travel narratives came to play a significant role in the commoners’ gradual assertion of their own personas. Through a confrontation with otherness mediated by cultural precedent and implemented by detachment from the ordinary, the space of travel allowed for alternative creations of the self and re-definitions of the individual in society. Travel, to a great many people of all social standings, offered both a chance for recreation (in the leisure-related connotation of the term) and for re-creation (that is, re-generation, or creation of a new persona). Detachment from one’s pre-assigned social niche offered the possibility to challenge, however momentarily, one’s roles and identity by subtly questioning the parameters of gender and status that defined the individual in the space of the ordinary.

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Travel Writing as a Genre

Facts, Fictions and the Invention of a Scientific Discourse in Early Modern Europe

Joan-Pau Rubiés and Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon’s endorsement of travel for the sake of the universal light of knowledge, in his posthumous scientific utopia New Atlantis (expressing his personal aspiration for the foundation of a scientific institution), identifies well the strategic place that travel literature had come to occupy in the culture of early seventeenth-century Europe. Travel literature is certainly not a unique European creation, but its remarkable development throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was crucial in the formation of a specifically Western discourse on human societies, one increasingly organised around a vision of natural and historical diversity but also tied inextricably to universalist assumptions and aspirations.