A Presentation by Dr. Emil Draitser, Hunter College, City University of New York
About the talk:
Drawing on his book on Russian humor, Taking Penguins to the Movies: Ethnic Humor in Russia (Wayne State University Press) , as well as on his memoir, Shush! Growing up Jewish under Stalin (UC Press), Hunter College professor Emil Draitser will speak about the crucial social role of Jewish humor at the time of the modern-day exodus of Jews from Russia. Due to the absence of formal Jewish organizations in Soviet times, Jewish jocularity was instrumental in creating a virtual community. The continuous exchange of humorous bits focusing on their shared predicaments helped Russian Jews to survive oppression, fight discrimination, reaffirm their Jewish identity, and strengthen the ties among their fellows-in-misfortune. It also reinforced the group’s boundaries and boosted its morale, helping to overcome the fear of making the life-altering decision to emigrate and start their lives anew.
About the speaker.
Originally a freelance journalist in the Soviet Union, Emil Draitser was blacklisted for a satirical article and, in 1975, immigrated to the United States, where he has been a professor of Russian at Hunter College in New York City since 1986. His first book published in the United States,Forbidden Laughter: Soviet Underground Jokes (www.createspace.com/4570667) brought him national attention. Award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction, Emil Draitser has also published Techniques of Satire; Making War, Not Love: Gender and Sexuality in Russian Humor, and The Supervisor of the Sea and Other Stories. His most recent books, Shush! Growing up Jewish under Stalin (www.shushthebook.com), a story of his Jewish childhood in the totalitarian Russia, and his semi-autobiographical novel on the emigration from Russia, From Here to Wherever (http://www.chayka.org/node/5042) , just published in Russian and being translated into English, are also imbued with Jewish humor. (For more info, visit: ww.emildraitser.com).
Sponsor: University of California, San Diego; Judaic Studies Program