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Title: Yiddish poetry and popular song of London, 1884-1914 : anglicisation, transnationalism and cultural controversy
Author: Lachs, Vivienne
ISNI:       0000 0004 8498 8473
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2016
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Yiddish-speaking immigrants arriving in London from the early 1880s, developed a rich cultural life. They established a Yiddish press, publishing houses, theatres and music halls. Although these institutions were often small and short-lived, the vibrancy of the popular culture is evident in the hundreds of songs and poems published in newspapers, periodicals, songbooks and penny songsheets. Many of these texts were home-grown, offering tantalising glimpses into London immigrant experience. This thesis analyses the socialist poetry, music-hall song and satirical verse written by immigrants to London about London immigrant life. The texts refer to local ideas, events and politics, alluding to community personalities, known places and English mores. They engage with conflict between Anglo-Jews, immigrant orthodox and socialists, holding positions in topical debates and arguing particular points. They tell unknown tales of changing sexual mores and nuance the place of religious ideas in the process of modernity. As Anglo-Yiddish texts, they can be seen as part of a process of anglicisation. Anglicisation is a contested term, and took different forms depending on the ideology of the writers: socialist revolutionaries, libertine entertainers or traditionally religious satirists. The writers and performers used a wide source of inspiration, and their poetry and song reflects the transnational world they inhabited. Lyrics allude to Eastern European and Yiddish Diaspora cultures, combining elements of the old homeland with new English mores. Some socialist poems became international anthems of the Jewish workers, and popular Anglo-Yiddish songs from the London halls travelled abroad with their singers. Performance was crucial in communicating the layers of meaning, that could only be deciphered by an audience imbued with the transnational cultural mix of immigrant London. I suggest that these layered texts that tier idea upon idea, experience upon experience, local upon transnational constitute a vibrant and revealing aspect of AngloYiddish popular culture.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Yiddish ; Anglo-Yiddish ; London ; music hall ; Yiddish music hall ; Winchevsky ; Morris Winchevsky ; socialist poetry ; Yiddish socialist ; Avreml ; Avrom Margolin ; transnationalism ; Yiddish music ; anglicisation ; anglicization ; Cockney-Yiddish ; Vivi Lachs