Department or Program



This thesis examines the contemporary politics, uses, and mobilizations of Yiddish language and culture, particularly through the Yiddish Book Center located in Amherst, Massachusetts. This non-profit organization sponsors a wide array of programming, both on-site and virtual, with a broad goal of making available an expansive and diverse body of works and knowledge often neglected in a post-World War II context. Through its mission to “recover, celebrate, and regenerate Yiddish language and culture,” it embodies “postvernacularity,” a theoretical framework and linguistic conceptualization introduced by Jeffrey Shandler. Engagements with Yiddish that are characterized by postvernacularity allow for increasingly expansive and accessible modes self and community making. Employing postnational and diasporic frameworks, this thesis uncovers the possibilities of Yiddish’s applicability in new cultural contexts and demonstrates how specific individuals utilize it to interpret and create historical narratives. This thesis examines the role of boundaries and borders in defining contemporary vernacular Yiddish use in an era of widely postvernacular Yiddish. This thesis also explores the formations of heritage production in shaping how narratives of Yiddish are constructed and mobilized in the present moment and unlocked from an enclosed and inaccessible historical realm. It is revealed that the act of shifting and challenging of boundaries characterize Yiddish as a portable, diasporic, and diverse set of resources.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Rubin, Josh

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file

Open Access

Available to all.