Ruth Ellen Gruber: “Sauerkraut Cowboys and Klezmer Cafes: Europe’s Real Imaginary Spaces”


October 5, 2010 | 12:00-2:00 PM | Free & Open to the Public
Humanities 1 Building, Room 210, UC Santa Cruz
Directions and Parking Information

Ruth Ellen Gruber
On Tuesday, October 5, 2010 Jewish Studies will welcome Ruth Gruber to discuss two European trends as analogous phenomena: the “virtually Jewish scene” and codification of what “Jewish” means in physical, mass cultural, and touristic contexts, and the parallel, multi-faceted, “Imaginary Wild West,” which also deals with myth, stereotype, physical space, and performativity. In both, questions of ownership, appropriation and “authenticity” are central, and longing and lost (sometimes mythical) landscapes play a role. We find “new authenticities” — and “real imaginary spaces,” often with the creation of new local traditions, definitions and cultural components.

Ruth Ellen Gruber is an award-winning American writer, photographer, editor and independent scholar living in Europe. For more than two decades she has chronicled Jewish cultural developments and other contemporary European Jewish issues. She coined the term “Virtually Jewish” to describe the way the so-called “Jewish space” in Europe is often filled by non-Jews. Her latest books are National Geographic Jewish Heritage Travel: A Guide to Eastern Europe, Letters from Europe (and Elsewhere), and Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe. Her current projects include “Sauerkraut Cowboys, Indian Dreams: Imaginary Wild Wests in Contemporary Europe,” an exploration of the American frontier in the European imagination, for which she won a Guggenheim Fellowship and an NEH summer stipend grant. Also: “(Candle)sticks on Stone: Representing the Woman in Jewish Tombstone Art,” for which she won a Hadassah Brandeis Institute award.

Sponsored by the Center for Jewish Studies, UCSC, with funding from the David B. Gold Foundation. Staff support provided by the Institute for Humanities Research, UCSC.

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