Saul Noam Zaritt (he/him)
Research Fields: Modern Jewish literatures, Yiddish literature, Hebrew literature, Jewish American literature, theories of world literature, translation, digital humanities.
Saul Noam Zaritt studies modern Jewish writing and the politics of translation, examining how writers move between cultures and across boundaries to reimagine the languages of Jewish experience. He has held fellowships at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Washington University in St. Louis, and the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. His scholarly work has appeared in the journals Prooftexts, Studies in American Jewish Literature, American Literary History, and Jewish Social Studies. He is a founding editor of In geveb, an open-access digital journal of Yiddish studies.
Zaritt’s first book, Jewish American Writing and World Literature: Maybe to Millions, Maybe to Nobody appeared with Oxford University Press in 2020. The book studies how Jewish American writers like Sholem Asch, Jacob Glatstein, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Anna Margolin, Saul Bellow, and Grace Paley think of themselves as world writers. The institution of world literature—as a global market or a proposed canon of great literature—represents an opportunity, through translation, to write beyond a threatened vernacular community, beyond Yiddish and beyond one’s Jewishness, toward the promise of legibility and universal achievement. Zaritt tracks the successes and failures that come with this promise, foregrounding writers’ implication within global literary networks and the lingering untranslatability of Jewish vernacular culture.
Zaritt is currently at work on a second book, entitled A Taytsh Manifesto: Yiddish, Translation, and the Making of Modern Jewish Culture, which proposes a new paradigm for Yiddish studies and the broader study of Jewish modernity. The project argues that translation, as practice and method, is the engine of Jewish modernity, urging scholars to shift from a focus on identity to an analysis of the entanglement of Jewish and non-Jewish languages and cultures. This study offers new and revised readings of figures like Sholem Aleichem and Anna Margolin while also turning to understudied texts, in particular serialized entertainment fiction (shundliteratur) and the popular novels of Sarah B. Smith.
Accompanying this book is a digital project, The Shund Collective, devoted to Yiddish entertainment fiction. The Shund Collective is a digital repository and bibliography of popular Yiddish fiction, considered the daily reading of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Yiddish speakers yet nearly untouched by current scholarship. This database will enable research into the thousands of Yiddish pulp novels circulated as books and pamphlets or serialized in the transnational Yiddish press. Bringing together a team of scholars and technologists, the project develops and deploys digital tools to analyze shund in comparison with a transnational and translingual corpus of popular fiction.
“A Taytsh Manifesto: Yiddish, Translation, and the Making of Modern Jewish Culture,” Forthcoming in Jewish Social Studies, October 2021.
“An Invitation to Polemical Enthusiasm and Near-Native Close Reading: In Memory of Alan Mintz,” Prooftexts 37, no. 3 (2019): 463–68.
“A Jewish Studies in Harness,” AJS Perspectives (Fall 2018), 25–27.
“Trickster, Chronicler, Traitor: An Impossible Portrait of Isaac Bashevis Singer,” Finding Aid: Isaac Bashevis Singer, Yiddish Book Center, Fall 2018.
The Politics of Yiddish
The Yiddish Short Story: Folk Tales, Monologues, and Post-Apocalyptic Parables
Jews, Humor, and the Politics of Laughter
Ghostwriters and Ventriloquists: Postwar Jewish American Culture
Writing Jewish Modernity
For more on Yiddish Studies at Harvard, visit our Facebook page.