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“Dramas of Exile: Feuchtwanger and Brecht”
Israeli scholars Galit Hasan-Rokem and Freddie Rokem discuss these two German-Jewish writers living in exile in the U.S. during World War II

Israeli scholars Galit Hasan-Rokem and Freddie Rokem will present brief lectures at Princeton University on two important German-Jewish authors who lived in exile in the U.S. during the Second World War and wrote about different forms of exile, Lion Feuchtwanger and Bertolt Brecht. The lectures on April 24 at 4:30 p.m. in Room 219 at 185 Nassau Street are presented by the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater, the Program in Jewish Studies, the Department of German, and the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies at Princeton and are free and open to the public.

galit hasan rokemGalit Hasan-Rokem will present a talk entitled “On Exegetic and Ethnographic Imaginations: Hebrew and European Sources of the Jew Süss,” the 1925 novel that first made German-Jewish author Lion Feuchtwanger (1888-1952) famous. Jud Süss tells the tale of the rise and fall of a historical figure from the early 18th century, a so called “court Jew.” It describes the luxury and the intrigues of the ducal palace, its masquerades and grand financial transactions, until it concludes with the grotesque scene of Süss’ public hanging. The same plot has been subject to various adaptations in prose, drama, on the stage and in films. Its rich ideological potentials have served Jewish self-definition, as well as Nazi propaganda. Feuchtwanger’s highly popular work in general and this acclaimed novel in particular have been the subject of many literary and historical discussions. Hasan-Rokem will look at some of its aspects that have only been partly dealt with – the themes stemming from the author’s erudition in the classical Hebrew, Biblical and Rabbinic sources and some aspects that have previously not been treated at all, such as the European tradition of the “wandering Jew.” Hasan-Rokem suggests that these themes greatly widened and deepened the meaning of the novel for its contemporaries, and that they may carry special meaning for today’s readers as well.

freddie rokemFreddie Rokem will speak on “The World Premiere of Bertolt Brecht's The Exception and the Rule: Kibbutz Givat Haim May 1, 1938.” On this date Brecht's “learning play,” The Exception and the Rule, had its world premiere in what was at that time, ten years prior to Israeli independence, a newly founded agricultural collective called Kibbutz Givat Chaim in British Mandatory Palestine. The play is about a businessman who is exonerated of having killed his “coolie” (working-class porter). Rokem’s lecture will begin by presenting the few extant archival materials concerning this production, and will go on to question the significance of this seemingly marginal event for contemporary audiences. In order to find answers to this question, Rokem will recount the experience of his graduate seminar and practical performance laboratory which prepared—in the dining room of that very same kibbutz that first put on the play, and in the presence of some of the people present in 1938 or their descendants—a five-hour celebration of the 75th anniversary of the play’s world-premiere.

Hasan-Rokem is the Max and Margarethe Grunwald Professor of Folklore and Professor (emerita) of Hebrew Literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She studies folk literary and ethnographic aspects of classical late antique Rabbinic literature and its intercultural and inter-religious aspects; folklore and literary theory; the proverb genre; Jewish motifs in European folklore, especially the traditions on the “wandering Jew” and contemporary Israeli culture. Her books include Web of Life: Folklore and Midrash in Rabbinic Literature (2000) and Tales of the Neighborhood: Jewish Narrative Dialogues in Late Antiquity (2003). Her edited volumes include The Wandering Jew - Essays in the Interpretation of a Christian Legend co-edited with A. Dundes (1986); Untying the Knot - On Riddles and Other Enigmatic Modes with D.D. Shulman (1996); The Defiant Muse: Hebrew Feminist Poems from Antiquity to the Present with Shirley Kaufman and Tamar Hess (1999); and Companion to Folklore (2012) with Regina F. Bendix the Wiley and Blackwell. She is a founding editorial board member of Palestine-Israel Journal where she has published such essays as “Not the Mother of All Cities: A Feminist Perspective of Jerusalem.”

Rokem is the Emanuel Herzikowitz Professor for 19th and 20th Century Art and teaches in the Department of Theatre Studies at Tel Aviv University, where he served as the Dean of the Yolanda and David Katz Faculty of the Arts (2002-2006). He has been a visiting Professor at Stanford University, the Free University in Berlin, U.C. Berkeley and U.C. Davis, as well as the Universities of Wisconsin (Madison), Munich, Stockholm and Helsinki. He served as editor of Theatre Research International (2006-2009) and is one of the editors of the new book series Performance Philosophy published by Palgrave Macmillan. His book Performing History: Theatrical Representations of the Past in Contemporary Theatre (2000) received the Association for Theatre in Higher Education Prize for best theater studies book in 2001. His other books include Strindberg’s Secret Codes (2004) and Philosophers and Thespians: Thinking Performance (2010), which explores the relations between the discursive practices of philosophy and performance. Rokem is the co-editor with Jeanette Malkin of Jews and the Making of Modern German Theatre (2010) and is also a translator and a dramaturge.

 

Link to photo: https://lca.sharefile.com/d/s97f393d24704bca9
Photo Caption 1:  Lion Feuchtwanger and Bertolt Brecht, two German-Jewish writers who lived in exile in the U.S. during World War II
Photo Credit 1:  Courtesy of Freddie Rokem and Galit Hasan-Rokem
Photo Caption 2: Freddie Rokem, the Emanuel Herzikowitz Professor for 19th and 20th Century Art and professor in the Department of Theatre Studies at Tel Aviv University
Photo Credit 2: Courtesy of Freddie Rokem
Photo Caption 3: Galit Hasan-Rokem, the Max and Margarethe Grunwald Professor of Folklore and Professor (emerita) of Hebrew Literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Photo Credit 3: Courtesy of Galit Hasan-Rokem

Event Information

 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

4:30 p.m.

Room 219 at 185 Nassau Street

Free and open to the public


 

 

Lion Feuchtwanger and Bertolt Brecht, two German-Jewish writers who lived in exile in the U.S. during World War II

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