While much has been written about the pathologizing of Jewish bodies by European sexologists, and while the role of Jewish scholars in the study of deviance has been recognized, next to nothing has been written about how European Jews theorized their own sex, in their own deviant tongue. This article proposes to rectify this lack by turning to a completely neglected body of work: sexology written in Yiddish. Yiddish sexology, produced globally across the first half of the twentieth century, reveals an array of new imaginaries of corporeality and sociality, coming from diverse transnational Jewish communities and reflecting varying engagements with the emergent science of sex. This article focuses on the work of one doctor, Leonard Landis, working at the turn of the twentieth century in New York, who was by far the most prolific (and controversial) author of Yiddish sexology and yet remains entirely unstudied. Recovering his unique voice and exposing some of its intricate intertextual and cross-cultural dialogues, this article argues for the vitality of including Yiddish sexology within global histories of sexuality.
Yiddish Sexology: A New Language for the History of Sexuality
Zohar Weiman-Kelman is a senior lecturer in the Department of Foreign Literatures and Linguistics at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. They received a PhD in comparative literature from the University of California, Berkeley, and were a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Jewish Studies and the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto. Zohar was a fellow at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies and an associate scholar at the Humanities Forum on Sex, both at the University of Pennsylvania. Their first book, Queer Expectations: A Genealogy of Jewish Women's Poetry, was published in 2018.
Zohar Weiman-Kelman; Yiddish Sexology: A New Language for the History of Sexuality. GLQ 1 January 2023; 29 (1): 77–90. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-10144421
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