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University of MichiganGerman Department3313 MLB812 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor, MI48109-1275
Nick is a Ph.D. candidate in German Studies. He received his B.A. in German Studies from the College of William and Mary in Virginia. As an affiliate of the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, Nick is also obtaining the Graduate Certificate in Judaic Studies. His research interests include German-Jewish intellectual history, the quest for a new language in German literature since 1945, the Turkish-German-Jewish triangle in contemporary German literature, and modernist Yiddish literature. For the academic year 2010-2011, he studied at the Freie Universität in Berlin on a doctoral fellowship. Before coming to Ann Arbor, Nick worked as an archivist for Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. He also taught high school German for two years in Chesapeake, VA as a state-licensed teacher.
Nick Block's dissertation is entitled "The Dialectics of Jewish Author and Foreign Jewish Other in German-Jewish and Yiddish Literatures, 1886-1939." Through a bilingual, transnational approach, he avers that a key figure in the German-Jewish renaissance, the literary image of the foreign Eastern European Jew, the "Ostjude," is to be understood in the broader context of European Jewish modernism. This study begins by contrasting German-Jewish representations of the Ostjude with Eastern European Yiddish representations of the German Jew, the "daytsh." It concludes that both German Jews and Eastern European Jews were coming to a modern understanding of Jewish self in their portrayal of foreign Jewish difference. Rather than othering their Jewish counterparts, the works analyzed here demonstrate a concerted effort on the part of the Jewish authors to internalize these foreign differences in a process of modern Jewish identity formation. This dissertation pulls from literary criticism, cultural studies, and psychoanalysis in its engagement with texts and images from authors such as Alfred Döblin, Nathan Birnbaum, Arnold Zweig, Sholem Aleichem, Y. L. Peretz, and Sholem Asch.
Germanic Languages and Literatures
Modern Languages Building812 E. Washington St., 3106 MLBUniversity of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI