At the heart of growing fundamentalism in the Haredi sector lies the fate of women: rabbis have decreed bans on women driving, installed modesty patrols, enforced gender segregation on buses, and photoshopped women’s faces (such as the female victims of the Pittsburgh massacre) out of newspapers and magazines. And while Haredi men attempt to render women voiceless and faceless, mainstream media does little better. Haredi women, however, are not all silently sitting at the back of the bus or locked in their homes, despairing their helpless fate. Quite the contrary! In a range of texts and genres—fiction, memoirs, magazines, films, blogs, music, and Instagram (armed with hashtags like #frumwomenhavefaces)—these women have been responding to their experiences, injunctions, and images, and thereby intervening in the contemporary culture wars about ethnoreligious women that rage around and about them. In this talk, Karen Skinazi will draw on research from her recent book, Women of Valor, to highlight the fascinating cultural work Haredi women are doing today, with a focus on the Orthodox women’s film industry.
Karen E. H. Skinazi is a Senior Teaching Fellow and Director of Liberal Arts at the University of Bristol. She studies late 19th- through 21st-century ethnic, American, and women’s literature and has recently published Women of Valor: Orthodox Jewish Troll Fighters, Crime Writers, and Rock Stars in Contemporary Literature and Culture (Rutgers University Press, 2018). Her essays have appeared in academic journals, as well as such popular venues as The Conversation, The Jewish Daily Forward, and Tablet Magazine. She received her BA from York University in Toronto, and her MA and PhD from NYU, and has taught at universities in the US, Canada, and the United Kingdom. She is also a foundation governor of the Orthodox Jewish school, King David Primary School in Birmingham.
Sponsor: Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies Program