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Rebeka Does the Tango: The Jewishness of Interwar Polish Popular Culture • Beth Holmgren (Duke University)

November 10, 2016 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

This presentation will examine how acculturated Jewish composers and lyricists created the new phenomena of sophisticated popular music and literary cabaret in interwar Poland. The revues featuring these artists’ witty songs and character-oriented sketches offered their upper-to-middle-class audience entertainment that traditional venues could not keep up with: topical political and social satire and popular new types of the city ranging from tango-dancing vamps to beleaguered Jewish shopkeepers. Professor Beth Holmgren will focus on how such gifted Jewish lyricists as Julian Tuwim, Konrad Tom, and Andrzej Włast provided meta-texts about their experience, writing mock-sentimental and advice songs about Jewish acculturation in a thoroughly modern secular world.


Beth Holmgren is Professor of Russian and Polish Cultures in Duke University’s Slavic and Eurasian Studies Department. Recent books include Starring Madame Modjeska: On Tour in Poland and America (Indiana, 2012), which won four national awards, and Americans Experience Russia: Encountering the Enigma, 1917 to the Present, edited with Choi Chatterjee (Routledge, 2013). She is currently working on two books, one a co-edited volume with Yana Hashamova and Mark Lipovetsky, Transgressive Women in Modern Russian and East European Cultures: From the Bad to the Blasphemous, the other a monograph, How the Cabaret Went to War, about the experience and influence of acculturated Jewish cabaret artists attached to the Polish II Corps during World War II.
The Carolina Seminar: Russia and Its Emipres, East and West is co-sponsored by the Carolina Seminar Program, the UNC Department of History, and the Duke Council for European Studies. Please note that the participants will give an overview of their projects, but will not read a formal paper. Instead, papers or book chapters will be posted here ahead of time for those who are interested in attending and participating in the discussion.


November 10, 2016
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
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