Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies | Why does Yiddish on screen make us laugh?
Why does Yiddish on screen make us laugh?
Professor Rebecca (Rivke) Margolis (Pratt Foundation Chair of Jewish Civilisation, Monash University)
This seminar shares Professor Margolis’ new research project that interrogates why Yiddish words and intonation on television and in movies evoke humour. It proposes factors behind the associations of Yiddish with comedy: the sounds of the language, the prevalence of comics and writers with Yiddish-language backgrounds and their associations with incivility, stereotypes from Yiddish folklore and literature such as the shlemiel, and the incongruency of positioning these stereotypes in surprising ways (e.g. non-Jews speaking Yiddish).
About the presenter
Professor Rebecca (Rivke) Margolis is the Pratt Foundation Chair of Jewish Civilisation at Monash University. Her research looks at the legacies of Yiddish and she is the author of Yiddish Lives On: Strategies of Language Transmission (2023) and Jewish Roots, Canadian Soil: Yiddish Culture in Montreal, 1905-1945 )2011). Her current project on new Yiddish cinema investigates the production of 21st century fiction film and television with subtitled Yiddish-language dialogue. She is working on a book called The Supernatural in New Yiddish Cinema: Dybbuks, Demons and a Haunted Jewish Past as well as a study of why we laugh when we hear Yiddish on screen. She has taught Yiddish language and culture for over 25 years in Canada, the United States, Israel and Australia.
For more information, contact: Vanina Vaisman-levy (firstname.lastname@example.org)