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Shoshana Olidort organized and presented on a panel, “Gender and Genre Shifts in American Jewish Culture”

Feb 3 2020

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I co-organized and presented on a panel, “Gender and Genre Shifts in American Jewish Culture,” at the Association for Jewish Studies’ annual conference in San Diego, December 14-17, 2019. My paper Against Interpretation: Gertrude Stein's Feminist Poetics considered the possibilities opened up by the surface of poetry, which I define broadly as the manifest content of a poem, its aural and visual qualities, the texture and shape of its language.

Through close readings of Gertrude Stein’s 40-page, 1927 poem “Patriarchal Poetry,” I showed how Stein espouses a surface poetics that meaningfully resists interpretation, which aims to narrow down and reduce a text to a particular meaning. Instead, as I demonstrate, Stein’s poetry engenders a reading characterized by expansive circling and a lingering on the surface that opens up the field of possible meanings (semantic and otherwise).  I argue that Stein’s surface poetics, which is bound up with her identity as a woman, a lesbian, and a Jew, enacts a profoundly political gesture of resistance to prevailing norms and forms of “patriarchal poetry.”