Wacks publishes book on Sephardic literature
Double Diaspora in Sephardic Literature: Jewish Cultural Production Before and After 1492. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015.
The year 1492 has long divided the study of Sephardic culture into two distinct periods, before and after the expulsion of Jews from Spain. David A. Wacks examines the works of Sephardic writers from the 13th to the 16th centuries and shows that this literature was shaped by two interwoven experiences of diaspora: first from the Biblical homeland Zion and later from the ancestral hostland, Sefarad. Jewish in Spain and Spanish abroad, these writers negotiated Jewish, Spanish, and diasporic idioms to produce a uniquely Sephardic perspective. Wacks brings Diaspora Studies into dialogue with medieval and early modern Sephardic literature for the first time.
David Wacks’s study is groundbreaking for its pioneering scope and poignant analysis. Through the critical lens of a ‘double diaspora’ Wacks sheds new light on the themes of expulsion and redemption in works by some of the most important medieval Spanish Jewish authors in the post-Zion Iberian exile such as Moses Maimonides and Judah Halevi. Wacks also leads the field of Sephardic Studies in a new direction by casting his critical eye on texts by lesser known Jewish writers, including the kabbalist Joseph Karo, living in a second exile from post-1492 Spain. —Gregory B. Kaplan, University of Tennessee
David Wacks’s elegant monograph bridges the divide between Hebraists and Hispanists, medievalists and early modernists, with conceptual sophistication and substantive insights. It makes, indeed, a compelling case for the analytic viability of “double diaspora” in the literary history of Sephardic Jews and the inscription of Hispano-Jewish literature in the Weltliteratur canon. An important contribution and a superb read. —Luis M. Girón Negrón, Harvard University