The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) is pleased to announce that two esteemed members of its faculty have recently earned top honors. Dr. Alan Mintz, the Chana Kekst Professor of Hebrew Literature in the Department of Jewish Literature at JTS, has been awarded a Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation for his literary criticism. Dr. David G. Roskies, the Sol and Evelyn Henkind Chair in Yiddish Literature and Culture and professor of Jewish Literature at JTS, has been elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
"We at JTS salute both Professor Alan Mintz on his Guggenheim Fellowship and Professor David Roskies on his election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences," said Arnold M. Eisen, chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary. "These tremendous honors reflect depth and breadth of intellect, knowledge, scholarship, and commitment. David and Alan have enriched immeasurably the discourse at this institution both inside and outside of the classroom, and for that we, their colleagues, are most thankful."
The research project for which Dr. Mintz was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship focuses on the late work of S. Y. Agnon, the great Hebrew writer and Nobel laureate in literature. Between the end of World War II and his death in 1970, Agnon wrote an epic cycle of some 150 stories about Buczacz, the city in Galicia (now Ukraine) in which he was born and raised until his emigration to Palestine in 1907. In the aftermath of the liquidation of the Jews of Buczacz by the Nazis and their Ukrainian helpers, Agnon sought to bring the city in its heyday back to life through the means of imaginative fiction. In evoking the world of Eastern European Jewry, Agnon used the full ironic toolkit of modernism, rather than looking back with nostalgia or ethnographic detachment.
Dr. Mintz was a founder (with Dr. Roskies) and coeditor of PROOFTEXTS: A Journal of Jewish Literary History, a publication that helped to establish the field of Jewish literary studies. Among his books are Hurban: Responses to Catastrophe in Hebrew Literature, "Banished From Their Father's Table": Loss of Faith and Hebrew Autobiography, and Popular Culture and the Shaping of Holocaust Memory in America. Sanctuary in the Wilderness: A Critical Introduction to American Hebrew Poetry, his most recent publication, was published by Stanford University Press in November 2011. Dr. Mintz will use the funds from the Guggenheim Fellowship to spend the fall 2012 semester in Jerusalem conducting research on Agnon.
Dr. Roskies's election to the 2012 class of members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences places him in the company of some of the world's most accomplished leaders from academia, business, public affairs, the humanities, and the arts. One of the nation's most prestigious honorary societies, the academy is also a leading center for independent policy research. Members contribute to academy publications and studies of science and technology policy, energy and global security, social policy and U.S. institutions, the humanities and culture, and education.
Dr. Roskies is a cultural historian of Eastern European Jewry. A prolific author, editor, and scholar, he has published nine books and received numerous awards. One major focus of his work is the Holocaust. In 1971, Dr. Roskies published Night Words: A Midrash on the Holocaust, one of the first liturgies on the subject ever to appear. In 1984, Harvard University Press published Against the Apocalypse: Responses to Catastrophe in Modern Jewish Culture, which won the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize from Phi Beta Kappa and has since been translated into Russian and Hebrew. A companion volume, The Literature of Destruction, was published by the Jewish Publication Society in 1989. In 2007, Dr. Roskies served as the J. B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Senior Scholar-in-Residence at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. In December, Brandeis University Press will publish Holocaust Literature: A History and Guide, which he coauthored with Naomi Diamant.
A second focus of Dr. Roskies's work is the art of storytelling. A Bridge of Longing: The Lost Art of Yiddish Storytelling appeared in 1995. His Yiddishlands: A Memoir (2008), which retells the story of modern Yiddish culture through story and song, was awarded the Canadian Jewish Book Award for Yiddish literature in 2009, and has been translated into Hebrew and Russian. Dr. Roskies is the editor-in-chief of the New Yiddish Library, published by Yale University Press.
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