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Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel
Cultural Studies paper by Rosen, Ilana (all papers)
Jews and Hungarians in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Hungarian Proverb Collections
Proverbs are concise formulations of folk wisdom and views, and as such, when seen in masses, they may well express the spirit of their time and place. In Hungarian proverbial lore Jews figure prominently in the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth century collections but fade out of such collections as of the mid twentieth century. While still present in Hungarian proverb collections, Jews are invariably portrayed in them as dishonest, greedy, physically weak and unattractive. Largely, this portrayal as well as the dynamics of presence versus disappearance matches the shared history of Hungarians and Hungarian Jews since the 1867 Emancipation of the country's Jews, through their growing integration in significant arenas of their host society, up to their persecution and annihilation in the Holocaust, and later their decade long forced merging into the general Hungarian society by communism. This presentation traces the occurrence and disappearance of Jews in Hungarian proverb collections as well as analyzes the content and messages of proverbs about Jews in the collections. Finally, by way of presenting a possible counter corpus, it examines the Hungarian-Jewish sense of belonging to Hungarian society based on a few much humbler proverb corpora of former Hungarian Jews.
Brief Professional Bio:
Ilana Rosen is a Professor of Hebrew Literature at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Beer Sheva, Israel. She studies the folk and documentary literature of Diaspora Jews and of Israelis in the twentieth century and has devoted to these topics five books and over forty articles. Her last study, Pioneers in Practice, about the documentary literature of veteran residents of the Israeli south, was published in 2016. As of 2013, she is the Book Review Editor of Hungarian Cultural Studies, the AHEA E-Journal published by the University of Pittsburgh.