The Extraordinary Voyages of the Yiddish Jules Verne

The Extraordinary Voyages of the Yiddish Jules Verne


Jan 07 2021
, 7PM- 8PM

Speaker: Sebastian Schulman


Whether it was on the Lower East Side of New York or in the shtetlekh of Eastern Europe, Yiddish speakers were voracious readers of Jules Verne (1828-1905), the 19th century’s most celebrated author of science fiction. With stories of adventure that crossed borders and investigated new technologies, these books had a direct appeal for Yiddish readers that were daily faced by the challenges of industrialization and mass immigration. But does Jules Verne en français really resemble his counterpart af yidish?

This presentation will explore how Verne’s Yiddish translators reshaped the writer, at once domesticating him to fit the norms of Jewish readership, while at the same time using Verne to advance a message of modernization, science, and empire to their supposedly backward and superstitious readers. Based on close readings across several languages, this lecture will show how these processes created a distinctly Yiddish “Zhul Vern,” a member of the Jewish literary pantheon that was related to, but somehow very different from his Parisian namesake.

This is program is co-sponsored with the Yiddish Book Center.

This live event will be presented via Zoom and will stream live on the Yiddish Book Center’s Facebook page. Space is limited. If you’d like to reserve a virtual seat in the Zoom audience—which will allow you to submit questions—registration is required.

About Our Speaker:

Sebastian Schulman is the Executive Director of KlezKanada, one of the world’s leading organizations in Yiddish culture and Jewish music. He has taught Jewish history, Yiddish culture, and literary translation at Smith College, Hampshire College, and the Yiddish Book Center. His writing and translations from Yiddish and Esperanto have appeared in Words Without BordersTupelo QuarterlyForward, and elsewhere. Schulman’s translation of Spomenka Stimec’s Esperanto-language novel Croatian War Nocturnal was published by Phoneme Media in 2017.

This live stream Zoom event is presented in relation to the special exhibit Jews in Space: Members of the Tribe in Orbit, on view September 13, 2020 through April 11, 2021. 

Comments are closed.