2012 Fife Honor Lecture: Women in Times of Persecution in Jewish Folk Legends

The 31st annual Fife Honor Lecture, saluting the pioneering work of local folklorists Austin and Alta Fife and hosted by the Utah State University Folklore Program, will be held on Thursday, April 12, at 12:30 p.m. in Library 101. This year Professor Haya Bar-Itzhak, of the University of Haifa, in Israel, will speak on “Women in Times of Persecution in Jewish Folk Legends.” The public is invited and attendance is free. Light refreshments will be served. In her lecture, Professor Bar-Itzhak will discuss legends from Eastern Europe from the 17th century to the Holocaust in which women act as heroines. She notes that many Jewish folk legends are set in times of persecution, due to the history of the Jewish people. It might be assumed that female characters would be passive victims, but the opposite is true. Professor Bar-Itzhak will discuss the reasons behind the phenomenon of Jewish patriarchal society legitimizing women acting in the public sphere as active and brave heroines. A professor of literature and folklore, Professor Bar-Itzhak has served as chair of the Department of Hebrew and Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies at the University of Haifa as well as director of the Israel Folktale Archives. The focus of her research is Jewish folk literature, with an emphasis on the ethnographic and poetic aspects. She has published nine books, including Jewish Moroccan Folk Narratives from Israel (with Aliza Shenhar); Jewish Poland : Legends of Origin; Israeli Folk Narratives: Settlement, Immigration, Ethnicity; The Power of a Tale (with Idit Pintel Ginsberg); and Pioneers of Jewish Ethnography and Folkloristics in Eastern Europe. Her two-volume Encyclopedia of Jewish Folklore is due out this month. Professor Bar-Itzhak is also the recipient of several awards, among them the American National Jewish Book Award and the Lerner Foundation for Yiddish Culture Award. She has been a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of California, Berkeley, a Fulbright Scholar in Residence at Penn State University, a Fellow at the Simon Dubnow Center in Leipzig, Germany, and is currently a Schusterman Israeli Visiting Professor at Indiana University. The Fife Honor Lecture is sponsored by the Folklore Program, the Department of English Speaker Series, and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. For more information, please contact Steve Siporin (steve.siporin@usu.edu or 797-2722).

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