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12 Anne Frank on Crank: Comic Anxieties

Edited by Barbara KirshenblattGimblett Indiana University Press ePub

Edward Portnoy

There was a certain actress, a terrible actress, that played Anne
Frank. She was so bad that when the Nazis came on [stage],
the audience yelled out, “She’s upstairs in the attic!”

Fyvush Finkel in Der Komediant, 1999

Making a joke about Anne Frank seems to be widely regarded as an act of bad taste. Why, then, would someone do so? Such jokes may engage some of the same challenging ideas about Anne’s significance in contemporary culture as do works of avant-garde video, performance, or visual art, but joking lacks the protective valence of these “high-culture” media. In addition to being provocative, these jokes are lowbrow; they are vulgar in both senses of the term. Seeking to explain this kind of humor, the psychologist Martin Grotjahn argued that “jokes grow best on the graves of fresh anxieties.”1 What then, are the anxieties on which Anne Frank jokes rely, and what makes them fresh, nearly seventy years after her death?

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Book Fourteen

Ovid Indiana University Press ePub


The Story of Glaucus Continued

Glaucus, the haunter of the swollen waves,

Had passed by Etna, heaped on the giant’s head,

Passed the unplowed, unharrowed fields which owed

No debt to any cattle; he went on

Past Regium’s walls, past Zancle, through the straits

Dangerous to mariners from either land,

Ausonia or Sicily, and he swam,

Untiring, through the Tuscan sea, and came

To the grassy hills and court of that enchantress,

Circe, the daughter of the Sun, where beasts,

Or phantoms of them, thronged. He saw her there,

Gave and received a welcome, and went on:

“Goddess, have pity on a god, I pray you!

No one but you can help me, if I seem

Worthy of help. Better than any man,

I know the magic power of herbs and grasses,

For I was changed by them. What caused my passion

You may already know: on Italy’s coast,

Across from Messina’s walls, I have seen Scylla.

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12. From Custom Book to Folk Culture: Minhag and the Roots of Jewish Ethnography / Nathaniel Deutsch

Edited by Andreas Kilcher and Gabriella Indiana University Press ePub

Minhag and the Roots of Jewish Ethnography


In 1891, Rabbi Abraham Sperling (1851–1921) of Lemberg—now Lviv in Ukraine and then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire—published his Hebrew language magnum opus, Sefer Ta’amei ha-Minhagim u-Mekorei ha-Dinim (Book of Reasons for Customs and Sources for Laws).1 The book rapidly became the rabbinic equivalent of a bestseller. During Sperling’s lifetime alone, at least six editions of the book were published, including a Yiddish translation in 1909; after his death, numerous official and bootleg versions were also published in various parts of Eastern Europe as well as in Germany, Hungary, the United States, and, most recently, Israel, likely making it the most widely produced book on Jewish custom in the modern period. Sperling’s decision to write the book and its subsequent popularity reflected historical and ideological developments within Ultra-Orthodox or Haredi Judaism, writ large. Indeed, as we will see, Sefer Ta’amei ha-Minhagim is notable for its catholic approach to Jewish customs, including material drawn from the responsa of leading rabbis such as Moses Sofer (also known as the Ḥatam Sofer) of Pressburg, generally considered the ideological father of the Haredi movement, as well as multiple Hasidic sources. Yet, as I will argue in this essay, the book was also connected to more secular currents in turn-of-the-century European Jewish culture, including the kinus (ingathering) phenomenon and the creation of Jewish ethnography and folklore studies, in which minhag (custom) became a central, if theoretically problematic, category.2

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A Conversation with Terry Tempest Williams: Jocelyn Bartkevicius and Mary Hussmann, The Iowa Review, 1997

Michael Austin Utah State University Press ePub

On a cold spring day in central Iowa, the interviewers traveled with Terry Tempest Williams to the small town of Kalona, home to an Amish community. On the perimeter of that community, we had lunch at a home-style cafe and visited an antique store, a converted church where we discovered among the dry sinks, oak tables, tinker toys, depression glass, and familiar quilt patterns, a red and white Hopi-design quilt with such a history of being mistaken for a Nazi pattern, it was kept folded inside-out, on a lower shelf. Later, we visited writer Mary Swander at her home in a converted one room schoolhouse surrounded by Amish homesteads. We drove down dirt and stone roads, flying past school children in simple home-made pinafores and trousers, past horse-drawn buggies. After herbal tea overlooking the farm fields and broad sky at Mary’s wall of windows, we visited sites from her poems and memoir—the Amish phone booth and the paddock with the one-eyed goat among them. We ended our day in Kalona with Mary at an Amish fabric and quilt store where we looked at display quilts and watched a woman and girl at work on a new quilt.

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Coffee Talk: A Chat with Terry Tempest Williams Aria Seligmann, Eugene Weekly, 2003

Michael Austin Utah State University Press ePub

Environmental writer and poet Terry Tempest Williams sat at a table at the Excelsior Inn about 8 o’clock on a Friday morning a couple of weks ago. In town to lecture and lead some writing workshops at the UO, she squeezed me into her busy schedule. Too early for me, I’d arrived at the restaurant several minutes prior just to get enough coffee down my gullet to be able to ask some questions. Williams, on the other hand, was already put together and naturally beautiful at that early hour, her unique combination of wisdom and grace readily apparent.

A lifetime resident of Utah, environmental writer and poet Terry Tempest Williams writes from her own experiences as a Mormon woman living in that state. She has authored six books, as well as An Unspoken Hunger, a collection of essays, and two children’s books.

Her work has been anthologized widely and reproduced in The New Yorker, The Nation, Outside, Audubon and Orion and she’s best known for Refuge, a book that tells the parallel tales of the degradation of the environment and her mother’s battle with cancer.

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