This event will feature a dialogue between Drs. Sunny Yudkoff and Caroline Luce on two often-overlooked centers of Yiddish literary production in America: Denver and Los Angeles. Throughout the twentieth century, both cities became havens for health-seekers. Indeed, many suffering from tuberculosis and other chronic lung diseases sought relief in the dry climates of the west, among them a number of well known and lesser known Yiddish writers. Dr. Yudkoff will highlight the Yiddish literary community of Denver, exploring how the space of the Jewish Consumptives’ Relief Society–a sanatorium for indigent Jews–would come to serve as an incubator of literary talents, including the poetry of Yehoash and Lune Mattes. Dr. Luce will trace the origins of LA’s City of Hope, founded as a sanatorium for victims of tuberculosis, and the work of one of its residents, Shia Miller. Each will examine the struggles of these tubercular writers to reconcile their own feelings of confinement and transnational Jewish belonging with the mythic image of the West as a site of cowboy masculinity and rugged individualism. These writers’ lives and legacies raise provocative questions about how Yiddish writers engaged with American literary traditions and how tuberculosis influenced the styles of Yiddish artists in the American West.

About the Speakers:
Sunny Yudkoff  is the Senior Lecturer in Yiddish at the University of Chicago. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard in 2015 and is currently at work on her first book manuscript entitled, Let it Be Consumption! Tuberculosis and the Modern Jewish Writer. Her research addresses the literary and historical consequences of a tubercular diagnosis for Yiddish and Hebrew writers around the globe–including in Denver, Colorado. She also currently serves on the editorial board of In Geveb: A Journal of Yiddish Studies.

Caroline Luce is the Research and Digital Projects Manager of the UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies and the Chief Digital Curator of the Mapping Jewish Los Angeles Project. She received her Ph.D. in American History from UCLA in 2013 for her dissertation exploring the complexities of working-class identity and Yiddish-based labor and community organizing in Boyle Heights. She is currently developing a book manuscript based on her dissertation entitled, ​Yiddish in the Land of Sunshine: Jewish Radicalism, Labor and Culture in Los Angeles, 1900-1950.

Moderator: Robert Peckerar (Yiddishkayt)

Sponsored by the:
UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies
Funding Provided by the
Michael & Irene Ross Endowment
Cosponsored by the:
UCLA Department of History