Zohar Weiman-Kelman

Associate Scholar

20152016 Forum on Sex

Zohar Weiman-Kelman

Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies Fellow

Zohar Weiman-Kelman’s research explores intersections of Jewish history and queer theories of kinship and temporality. Zohar recently completed a first book manuscript, What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting: Queer Histories of Jewish Women Writers. Reading poetry in Yiddish, Hebrew and English from 1880 to 1990, the book examines how literary lineage is constructed and challenged by Jewish women. Between Jewish women’s limited access to the past and the precarious future of Yiddish, it offers a queer genealogy based in nonlinear transmissions, affective connections and cross-temporal encounters. Zohar’s new project, Philology, Sexology, and the Future of Yiddish, looks at intersections of Yiddish language and sexuality. Zohar held the Anne Tanenbaum Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto and was a postdoctoral teaching fellow at the University of Haifa. 

Philology, Sexology, and the Future of Yiddish

Moving between the current state of Yiddish and the complex realities of the Yiddish past, Philology, Sexology, and the Future of Yiddish creates an erotic lineage based in archives, poetry, and practices of sex. Through Yiddish sexology I retrieve narratives of Jewish bodies past. Through philology I explore the confluence of sexual expression and the development of the Yiddish language. Through erotic Yiddish poetry I examine how the body of today’s reader becomes implicated in the interaction with Yiddish history. Combining the three fields, I interrogate concepts of archiving and transmitting culture outside the dictates of reproductive heterosexual normativity. The result is a queer Yiddish archive, offering a new vocabulary for the past, as well as new ways of theorizing sexuality, language, and Jewish history.