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Naomi Brenner

Naomi Brenner

Naomi Brenner

Associate Professor


315 Hagerty Hall
1775 College Rd.
Columbus, OH

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Areas of Expertise

  • Modern Hebrew Literature and Culture
  • Modern Yiddish Literature and Culture
  • Literary Multilingualism and Translation


  • Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley, Comparative Literature
  • B.A. University of Michigan, History, Comparative Literature and Jewish Studies




My research examines the intricate cultural, historical, and ideological ties that link Jewish writing in different languages. In the cases of Hebrew and Yiddish literatures, my areas of specialty, the emergence of modern and modernist literary texts at the end of the nineteenth century was accompanied by the construction of distinct national literary traditions. Historically, Hebrew and Yiddish literatures have been studied separately for ideological rather than cultural reasons. Yet Jewish literary texts, whether written in Hebrew, Yiddish, Arabic, English or other languages, were constantly in contact with other languages and other literatures. My focus on literary multilingualism incorporates elements from contact linguistics, literary studies, and translation to analyze aesthetic and historical dynamics of modern Jewish cultures.

The intersections of literary texts, language politics, and ideology come together in my book, Lingering Bilingualim: Between Modern Hebrew and Yiddish Literatures (2016). This book examines early twentieth century transformations of Ashkenazi Jewish life and culture through the lens of Hebrew-Yiddish bilingualism. Analyzing periodicals, poetry, prose and translations, the book’s chapters examine instances when bilingual texts, writer and editors resisted ideological pressures to create of monolingual, self-sufficient and national literatures. As they attempted to sustain Hebrew-Yiddish bilingualism in a variety of ways, these culture brokers offered alternative visions for Jewish culture that rejected the inevitability of a single national literary language and created space for multiple languages and multiple voices within Jewish-language literature.

I am currently working on projects on the emergence of entertainment fiction in Hebrew and Yiddish in the late nineteeth and early twentieth century and the aesthetics and politics of the roman-feuilleton as a global literary form.

At OSU, I teach a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses in NESA and Jewish Studies. In the classroom, I aim to nurture diversity in small fields within the humanities and to create classroom communities that promote engagement with and dialogue about political, social, and cultural histories and conflicts in the Middle East and beyond.

Recent courses include:

· NELC 1125 Stories of Belonging and Difference in the Middle East and South Asia

· Hebrew/Jewish Studies 3245 Israeli Film and Society

· Hebrew/Jewish Studies 3704 Women of the Bible and Beyond

· Jewish Studies 2201 Introduction to Jewish Culture, Practice and Thought

· Hebrew/Jewish Studies 3705 Israeli Society and the Holocaust


Selected Publications

Lingering Bilingualism: Modern Hebrew and Yiddish Literatures in Contact. Syracuse University Press, 2016.

“David Frishman: Hebrew Critic Par-Excellence.” In Their Surroundings: Localizing Modern Jewish Literatures in Eastern Europe. Eds. Efrat Gal-Ed, Natasha Gordinsky, Sabine Koller, Yfaat Weiss. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2023, 21-28.

“The Many Lives of Sabina: ‘Trashy’ Fiction and Multilingualism” Dibur Literary Journal 7 (2019).


“David Bergelson in Hebrew: Translation as Literary Memorialization.” Prooftexts 37.3-38.1 (2019): 642-655.


“Translation as Testimony: Hebrew Translations of Yiddish Literature in the 1940s.” East European Jewish Affairs 48 (2018): 263-283.


“Haven’t You Ever Heard of Bialik? The Specter of H.N. Bialik in Hebrew Literature.” Prooftexts 35:2-3 (2015): 211-249.


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