In the upcoming year, the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies will focus on the theme of “Translating Jewish Cultures.” Our fellows will explore the theme of translation across a wide range of time periods and geographic locations, such as ancient and modern biblical translations, medieval translations of science and law, and twentieth-century literary and cultural translations in the Americas, Russia, Europe, and Israel. Critically engaging with the interdisciplinary field of translation studies, this Institute includes scholars who work in the fields of political thought, literary studies, musicology, anthropology, and religious studies. Many of the projects share a focus on Jewish migration and situate translation practices within contexts of linguistic and cultural negotiation.

This year’s head fellows are Maya Barzilai, Associate Director of the Frankel Center and Associate Professor of Hebrew Literature and Jewish Culture, and Adriana X. Jacobs, Associate Professor of Modern Hebrew Literature at the University of Oxford. Barzilai studies modern Hebrew literature in comparative and multilingual contexts, focusing on Hebrew-German literary and scriptural translations in the context of early twentieth-century Zionism and secularism. Working in a comparative vein, Jacobs’s research on modern Hebrew poetry examines the relation between translation and writing, highlighting the multilingual networks that poets claim and imagine in translation.

The Frankel Institute fellows will consider how the study of Jewish translation histories and practices stands in dialogue with recent theoretical developments in the fields of postcolonial translation studies, gender studies, transnationalism, and world literature. They will explore how Jewish societies negotiated their minority or majority positions through translation. This theme year also will afford opportunities to discuss how translation enabled exchanges around Jewish scripture, law, and thought, and how these practices of translation have changed across time and space.

By bringing together scholars working in translation studies across a range of regions, languages, and periods, this fellowship year promotes a productive conversation among fields that have often been studied in separate departments and forums. Fellows will share their research with the scholarly community and public through guest lectures, symposia, the Frankely Judaic Podcast, and the collection of essays released at the end of the year as the Institute Annual.

The Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan provides annual fellowships for scholars from around the world to conduct research in relation to a given theme. Established through a generous financial contribution from the Jean and Samuel Frankel Jewish Heritage Foundation, the Frankel Institute is committed to interdisciplinary, multilingual work spanning ancient times to the present day. Fostering the ideal of community and scholarly exchange of the highest standard, the Institute upholds its long-standing mission to advance global leadership in Jewish Studies.


The 2020–21 Frankel fellows and their fields of research are:

Maya Barzilai, University of Michigan, “Translation Beyond Zionism: Hebrew-German Literary Exchanges”

Lucia Finotto, Brandeis University, “The Jewish Translators of Medieval Sicily”

Alessandro Guetta, Institut National des Langues et Civilisation Orientales, “’A Common Tongue’: Jewish Translation from Hebrew in Early Modern Italy

Adriana X. Jacobs, University of Oxford, “Undead Poets Society: Hebrew Afterlives in Translation”

Oren Kosansky, Lewis & Clark College, “Judeo-Arabic, Translation, and the Languages of Jewish Morocco”

Roni Masel, New York University, “Disruptive Violence: The Gothic and the Grotesque in Hebrew and Yiddish”

Joshua L. Miller, University of Michigan, “‘A race in fragments, almost completely scattered’: The Translational Networks of Jewish Latin America”

Alex Moshkin, University of Toronto, “Migration and Translation: Contemporary Russian-Israeli Poetry”

Anita Norich, University of Michigan, “Translation Matters: Women's Prose Writing in Yiddish”

Naomi Seidman, University of Toronto, “Freud and/in Yiddish”

Yael Sela, The Open University of Israel, “Music, Myth, and Aesthetic Sensation in Moses Mendelssohn’s Translation Enterprise”

Sasha Senderovich, University of Washington, Seattle, “Translating the ‘Soviet Jew’ Between Russia and America”

Anna Elena Torres, University of Chicago, “‘Utopian Tongues: Jewish Anarchist Translation Practices”

Jason M. Zurawski, University of Groningen, “The Reception of the Greek Translation of Hebrew Scriptures in the Hellenistic Diaspora”