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Sessions Seeking Participants/Papers Seeking Sessions

AJS 49th Annual Conference
December 17-19, 2017
Marriott Marquis Washington, DC

If you would like to post a session or paper idea to the list below, please send an e-mail to the AJS at with your name and contact information (e-mail and/or phone number) and a brief description of the paper, session, or topic you wish to explore.

If you would like to join one of the below session proposals, please contact the session organizer directly. Please note that expressing interest in joining a session proposal does not guarantee a place in the session proposal, nor acceptance of your proposal by the AJS; session organizers will contact you directly if they wish to include your proposal in their session. The session proposal will then be submitted to the AJS and evaluated by Division Chairs and the Program Committee, as would any other session proposal.

If you would like to develop a session around one of the paper ideas, please contact the organizer/author directly at the email address or phone number provided.

Session Ideas (Roundtables, Seminars, Panels, Meetings)

Paper Ideas

Session Ideas (Roundtables, Seminars, Panels, Meetings)

Submitted by:

Corinne Blackmer

Andrew Pessin

Anti-Jewish Animus on Campus

Incidents of anti-Jewish animus—whether manifested as classic antisemitism or, more controversially, as anti-Zionism—are increasingly common on American college campuses. These include everything from hate crimes, vandalism and graffiti, hostile BDS campaigns, harassment of or threats against Israeli/Jewish speakers on topics pertaining to Israel/Jewishness, and openly antisemitic speech, activism, and protests. These acts would be roundly condemned by administration and faculty were they sexist, racist, xenophobic, or homophobic in character, but in fact when they target Israel (or Israel-supporting Jews) they are widely tolerated or even supported in the name of free speech. Building on our forthcoming volume, Totalitarians at the Gate: The BDS Assault on Freedom of Speech and the University (Indiana UP), we wish to consider questions regarding when and how anti-Zionism transforms into antisemitism, and freedom of speech into hate speech. We solicit proposals from academics who been the objects of or who have participated as protestors against recent incidents of anti-Semitism on American college/university campuses.  We envision proposals consisting of a brief narrative of what happened and who was involved (and in what capacity if participants feel free to share), followed by a succinct analysis or theorization of the relevant issues involved in the incident(s).  Questions can be addressed to and proposals of 350-500 words sent to and

Submitted by:

Roslyn Weiss

Hasdai Crescas

I would like to propose a session on Hasdai Crescas. Papers on Crescas's works as well as on influences on him or his influences on others are most welcome. If anyone is interested, please contact me: Roslyn Weiss,

Submitted by:

Joshua B. Friedman

Moshe Kornfeld

Jews and Whiteness in Trump’s America

In the wake of Donald Trump’s surprising 2017 presidential election victory, a new conversation about Jewish identity has begun to unfold in the United States. Trump’s election has unleashed a wave of public anti-Semitism that most American Jews had assumed belonged to the past. His campaign’s notorious use of anti-Semitic “dog whistles,” his staffers’ penchant for retweeting white supremacists, and the prominent role of Steven Bannon in the Trump administration have all empowered anti-Semites on the so-called “alt-right,” pushing their views closer to the mainstream. These trends have shaken the American Jewish community to its core, unsettling long-standing, hegemonic narratives about the Jewish acquisition of white racial identity. “Are Jews White?” journalist Emma Green asked about Jewish identity after Trump in a December 2016 issue of the Atlantic Monthly. Pundits, communal leaders, and social scientists have attempted to address this question in a variety of ways, raising new questions and reassessing old ones in the process. Is anti-Semitism a problem primarily with one or the other “side” of the political spectrum? To what extent does questioning Jewish racial status mask the benefits Jews experience as a result of white privilege? How do we account for the systemic nature of the anti-Semitism currently on display on the American right, and how does it relate to the wider context of xenophobia, racism, and homophobia in the United States? What, in short, can the rise of Donald Trump and the racist alt-right movement tell us about Jewish difference in the United States today?

Submitted by:

Amy Milligan

Jewish Folklore

I am looking to collaborate with other Jewish folklorists to put together a session on Jewish folklore. Depending on disciplines, this could go in several different directions, but my research areas concentrate on gendered folklore, material culture, and bodylore. One potential topic might be subversive folkloric religious responses, although I am happy to collaborate and work together to form a panel which would represent the presenters’ interests.

Submitted by:

Yitzhak Lewis

Afterlives of a Zadik: Hasidic Writing and its Lingering Effects on Modern Jewish Literature

Familiar themes in the study of modern Jewish literature (both Hebrew and Yiddish) include secularization and modernization, tradition and custom, rupture and continuity, translation and multilingualism, competing languages, assimilation, acculturation, and the interrelations between literature and nationalism. Also well known and frequently studied are the complex relations between “modern Jewish literature,” commonly dated from Avraham Mapu in Hebrew and S. Y. Abramovitsh in Yiddish, and its self-identified precursor, the “Haskalah literature.” Within this standard self-proclaimed historiography, the role of Hasidic literature as a shared referent for both the Haskalah and "modern" literature has not received its due attention. As Ken Frieden has noted recently, the classical historiography of modern Jewish literature “has too often been represented as a straight line from Enlightenment authors’ melitza to ‘Mendele’s nusah’.” Frieden has added that in order to move beyond “this one-dimensional geometry,” we need to turn our gaze to “additional lines of development.”

It is our contention that a comprehensive account of Jewish literary modernity, and a deep appreciation of its aesthetic and ideological aspirations, is not possible without recognizing the role played by the literature of the Hasidic movement. The defining themes of Jewish literary modernity, both ideologically and aesthetically are, in an important and unrecognized sense, afterlives of a textual-political-aesthetic moment that found its expression in the texts and teachings of Hasidism. Such an "additional line" connecting Hasidism to its literary successors is not hard to identify: from Abramovitsh and I. L. Peretz, through writers as varied as Der Nister and Kafka, and all the way to Bashevis Singer and Sh. Y. Agnon, the major modern Jewish writers have signaled the Hasidic movement as a precursor to their own preoccupations.

This seminar seeks to explore a wide range of trajectories that lead from Hassidic writing to modern Jewish literature. Possible themes include (but are not limited to):

  • The influence of Hasidic writing on particular authors
  • The literary potentials and/or aesthetic innovations of Hasidic writing itself
  • Reading Hasidic writing as literature
  • Literature and Religion in the context of Hasidic writing and/or modern literature
  • Hasidic writing and multilingualism

Please send 250–300 word proposals and inquiries to Yitzhak Lewis:

Submitted by:

Victoria Khiterer

Jewish Migration and Modern Jewish Life in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union

I would like to organize a panel for the 2017 AJS Conference (December 17-19, 2017, Washington, DC) on Jewish Migration and Modern Jewish Life in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. I am going to present my paper "The Holodomor and Jews in Ukraine," which show how the Holodomor provoked migration of Jews from starving shtetls to the large cities, where the situation with provisions was somewhat better.

I am looking for a panel chair, two paper presenters and a discussant.

If you are interested in participating in the panel, please contact me by email:

Submitted by:

Michal Brandl

Jewish Migration and Modern Jewish Life in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union

I would like to organize a panel for the 2017 AJS Conference (December 17-19, 2017, Washington, DC) on Jews in Central-Eastern and Eastern Europe after the Second World War. I am looking for a panel chair and presenters.

If you are interested, please contact me by email

Paper Ideas

Submitted by:

Alan Levenson
(405) 325-6501

Maurice Samuel

This paper reassesses one of the premier Jewish humanists at mid-twentieth century, the Rumanian-born, English-educated, Maurice Samuel. His fame rested on four seemingly unrelated contributions. One, Samuel introduced many American readers to the worlds of Sholom Aleichem, Y.L. Peretz and many other Yiddish luminaries. Two, Samuel lived in Mandatory Palestine from 1929-1939 and presented the Zionist cause and evaluated Arab-Jewish conflict in Harvest in the Desert (1944) and Level Sunlight (1953). Three, Samuel conducted years of radio conversations with Columbia University’s Mark van Doren over the Bible’s qualities—a period in which “Bible as literature” represented a non-politicized component of the Western canon. Four, Samuel was a polemicist, a proponent of Jewish culture against antisemitism, a defender of Jewish tradition against those who considered it vestigial, and a champion of Jewish character against its detractors. Maurice Samuel was a public intellectual without being an expert, or even a college graduate. Would like to join a panel on assessments of antisemitism or 20th-century American Jewish thought.