This project explores German translations of Yiddish literature, published in the German-speaking world over the period of five centuries: from the mid-sixteenth century and up to the present day. Although a historical study in nature, the project also makes extensive use of the insights and methodologies developed in the field of Translation Studies over the past few decades. Going beyond a strict linguistic analysis to examine the translated works in their historical backgrounds and ideological frameworks, the project uses the cultural phenomenon of German translations from Yiddish as a window into broader mechanisms in German-Jewish history throughout the early modern and modern periods. The project will focus not only on internal German-Jewish developments, but also on the interactions between Jews and non-Jews in Germany on the one hand, and between the German Jews and their east-European coreligionists on the other hand.
By analyzing a large body of translations, and the discourses surrounding them, from the perspective of cultural history, the project seeks to shed light on an important and hitherto under-represented chapter in the history of the Yiddish-German encounter. It thus aims to contribute not only to the field of Yiddish Studies, but first and foremost to those of German and German-Jewish history and culture, which it illuminates from the unique perspective of translation. As the first major attempt to put German translations from Yiddish at the center of a systematic and comprehensive study, and to narrate the cultural history of this important genre, the project also aims to contribute to the emerging field of cultural and social history of translation, and to promote our theoretical understanding of the role of translation in the evolution of cultures and the interactions between them.
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