Emma Lazarus’ Sephardic Return
Emma Lazarus, the nineteenth-century Sephardic American poet and translator, expressed an identity particularly engaged with the Jewish legacy of medieval Spain. This lecture by 2018 American Sephardi Federation Broome & Allen Fellow Leonard Stein explores Lazarus’s proto-Zionism, sexuality, and advocacy for a compassionate American society, positions informed by her readings of al-Andalus and the Spanish Inquisition as interpellated by contemporary German Jewish scholars. Comparing her poetry with these historical sources reveals how her famous work against anti-Semitism and nationalist chauvinism stem from a commitment to her ancestral past.
Leonard Stein is a Connaught International Doctoral Scholar for the Centre for Comparative Literature in a collaborative program with the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. His research compares medieval Jewish-Iberian identity with modern literature from the Sephardic diaspora. He currently serves as the President pro tem and program chair for the Society for Crypto Judaic Studies and editor for the University of Toronto Journal of Jewish Thought. His newest publications include “Jubanidad and the Literary Transmission of Cuban Crypto-Judaism” for the forthcoming edited volume, Caribbean-Jewish Crossings: Atlantic Literature and Theory (University of Virginia Press), and “The New Literature of Hip Hop Music” for the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Hip Hop Music Studies.