The Politics of Interpretation

Alterity and Ideology in Old Yiddish Studies

By Jerold C. Frakes

Subjects: Jewish Studies
Paperback : 9780887068461, 320 pages, December 1988
Hardcover : 9780887068454, 320 pages, December 1988

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Table of contents


1. Alterity, Ideologies, and Old Yiddish

2. The Names of Old Yiddish

3. Alterity, Accessibility, Audience, Alphabet: On Editing Old Yiddish Texts

4. The New Paradigm(s)

Appendix: Notes on Transliteration/Transcription Systems



Author-Title Index

General Index

Scholar Index


This study examines the critical ideologies that have shaped the perception, reception, and projection of Old Yiddish during the course of the past century. The first critical, historical survey of the history of scholarship in the field, it confronts the assumptions underlying the research—assumptions of cultural identity and the value of the literature of that culture. It documents the pervasive denial that Yiddish is a language and that Yiddish literature is intrinsically valuable, or the assertion that this literature is German and a product of German culture.

Jerold C. Frakes is Assistant Professor of German at the University of Southern California.


"This is a work of high scholarship and lucidity. It will become a standard in its field and will be quoted in every work on Yiddish and in many on Jewish history and literature for decades to come. " — Emanuel S. Goldsmith, Queens College, CUNY

"The book is important as an analytical illumination of a disgraceful chapter in the history of philology and as an account of some manifestations of hidden antisemitism. " — Franz Bauml, UCLA