Teaching "Absolut Tchotchke"
âGefilte fishâ car emblem, one of a series of parodies of the Christian symbol of a fish produced since the 1990s by evolvefish.com - an enterprise based in Colorado dedicated to countering the destructive aspects of religious zealotry.â
Over the years, family and friends who knew of Shandlerâs interest in Yiddish gave him gifts of objects bearing Yiddish words. As the collection took shape and he added to it, he was prompted to consider these objects as material examples of postvernacular Yiddish. Consistent with the pedagogy proposed here, Shandler worked from the objects outward in search of analytic and theoretical insights. His approach, which forms the basis for the exercises provided in this installment, begins with a close reading of the object itself and the way that Yiddish appears on it (in the alefbeys [the Jewish alphabet] or romanized in Latin letters, which might imitate the look of the Jewish alphabet). Shandler also explores the production and consumption of these objectsâas gifts, gags, collectiblesâand their place in Jewish life and North America popular culture.
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