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The Post Holocaust Golem: A Jewish Legend Returns

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Uploaded on Dec 6, 2011

Dr. Elizabeth Baer is Professor of English and Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Gustavus Adolphus College. She spoke for CHGS on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011.

The Jewish legend of the Golem tells of a clay man brought to life to serve as a heroic figure in the Jewish community of 16th century Prague. His story has been recounted in many texts, yet the Golem has also gone through long periods of dormancy in his history, only to be brought back to life in key moments within the Jewish experience.

Dr. Baer argues that contemporary Jewish-American writers have created Golem stories as a re-imagining of text-centered Jewish traditions by appropriating, adapting, revising and riffing on older Golem legends. Such appropriation, deploying the imagination to seek a better understanding of human nature, is crucial in light of the Holocaust experience under the Nazis. This presentation includes Golems from novels, comic books, graphic narratives, and "The X-Files."

Dr. Baer's new book, "The Golem Redux: From Prague to Post-Holocaust Fiction" from Wayne State University Press, will appear in Spring 2012.

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