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Ken Frieden

Ken Frieden

Ken Frieden

B.G. Rudolph Professor of Judaic Studies


Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics
506 Hall of Languages
Office: 315.443.3861


Jewish Studies Minor / Modern Jewish Studies
Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Middle Eastern Studies
Modern Foreign Languages


  • Ph.D., Comparative Literature, Yale University
  • M.A., Comparative Literature, University of Chicago
  • B.A., English, magna cum laude with Honors, Yale College

Social/Academic Links

Courses Taught

  • Introduction to Yiddish
  • Yiddish Literature in Translation
  • Travel Narratives and Pilgrimages [trans. from Yiddish, Hebrew, German, Dutch]
  • Great Jewish Writers
  • Judaic Literature
  • Allegory and Parody
  • Israeli Literature and Culture
  • Advanced Hebrew
  • Hebrew Literature in the Original
  • European and American Judaic Literature
  • Blacks and Jews in Film and Fiction
  • Religion, Literature, Film (with Gail Hamner)
  • Klezmer Ensemble, School of Music
Current Projects
A&S Announces Tolley Professorships

(Aug. 14, 2018)

Frieden, Pough to collaborate on issues of diversity, inclusion, and social justice in the Humanities.

Professor Sheds Light on Origins of Jewish Fiction

(June 17, 2016)

New book by Ken Frieden examines link between Hebrew revival, Jewish travel literature

Research and Publications

Professor Frieden takes a comparative literature approach to Yiddish and Hebrew writing, in the broader contexts of European and world literature. From this perspective, he recently completed a book on Travel and Translation in Jewish Literature. His past books include:

Classic Yiddish Stories of S.Y. Abramovitsh, Sholem Aleichem, and I.L. Peretz (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2004);

Classic Yiddish Fiction: Abramovitsh, Sholem Aleichem, and Peretz (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995);

Freud’s Dream of Interpretation (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990);

Genius and Monologue (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985).

Frieden also edits a series (with Harold Bloom), Judaic Traditions in Literature, Music, and Art, at Syracuse University Press.

In addition to working in the fields of Yiddish, Hebrew, and Comparative Literature, he is active as a Klezmer clarinetist.

Academic Positions
  • B.G. Rudolph Professor of Judaic Studies and Full Professor, Department of English, Department of Languages, Literatures, & Linguistics, and Department of Religion, Syracuse University, 1993-present
  • Lady Davis Visting Professor, Department of Hebrew, Department of General and Comparative Literature, and the Center for Research on the History and Culture of Polish Jews, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2007-2008
  • Visiting Professor, Department of Hebrew and Comparative Literature, University of Haifa, Spring 2000
  • Visiting Professor, Departments of Russian and Comparative Literature, University of California at Davis, Spring 1999
  • Visiting Professor, Department of Hebrew Literature, Tel Aviv University, Ramat-Aviv, Israel, Spring 1997
  • Associate Professor, Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Languages and Literatures, Emory University, 1990-1993
  • Dorot Assistant Professor, Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Languages and Literatures, Emory University, 1985-1990
Edited Volumes

Etgar Keret's Four Stories
[The B. G. Rudolph Lectures in Judaic Studies, New Series, Lecture 6], Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2010.

Borderlines: Judaic Literature and Culture in Eastern Europe
Special Issue, Symposium 57 (Fall 2003), edited by Ken Frieden. Judaic Literature: Identity, Displacement, and Destruction
special issue, Symposium 52 (Winter 1999), edited by Ken Frieden.

Sholem Aleichem, Nineteen to the Dozen: Monologues and Bits and Bobs of Other Things
State University of New York Press, 1995.

S. Y. Abramovitsh, Tales of Mendele the Book Peddler: Fishke the Lame and Benjamin the Third
ed. Dan Miron and Ken Frieden, trans. Ted Gorelick and Hillel Halkin. Schocken Books, 1996.

Other Research Links
Selected Articles in Periodicals
  • “Discovering Amerika in YIddish: Literary Innovation in Yiddish Sea Travel Narratives, 1815-1824,” Poetics Today 35 (forthcoming, 2014).
  • "Neglected Origins of Modern Hebrew Prose: Hasidic and Maskilic Travel Narratives," AJS Review: The Journal of the Association for Jewish Studies 33 (2009): 3-43.
  • "Epigonism After Abramovitsh and Bialik," Studia Rosenthaliana 40 (Amsterdam, 2007-2008): 159-181.
  • “‘Nusah Mendele’ be-mabat bikorti” [in Hebrew; A Critical Perspective on "Mendele's Nusah"], Dappim le-mehkar be-sifrut [Research on Literature, Haifa] 14-15 (2006): 89-103.
  • "Joseph Perl's Escape From Biblical Epigonism through Parody of Hasidic Writing," AJS Review: The Journal of the Association for Jewish Studies 29 (2005): 265-82.
  • "The Displacement of Jewish Identity in Stefan Zweig's "Buchmendel" Symposium 52 (Winter 199): 232-39.
  • Parody and Hagiography in I. L. Peretz's As-If Hasidic Stories [in Hebrew] “Parodia ve-hagiographia: sippurim hasidiim-keveyakhol shel I. L. Peretz,” Chulyot [Journal of Research on Yiddish Literature and Its Relationships to Hebrew Literature, Haifa] 7 (2002): 45-52.
  • "A Century in the Life of Sholem Aleichem's Tevye" A Century in the Life of Sholem Aleichem's Tevye," The B. G. Rudolph Lectures in Judaic Studies, New Series, Lecture 1 [1993-94] (Syracuse University Press, 1997), 26pp.
  • "New(s) Poems: Y. L. Teller's Lider fun der tsayt(ung)," AJS Review: The Journal of the Association for Jewish Studies 15 (1990; 269-89.
  • "Psychological Depth in I. L. Peretz' Familiar Scenes," Jewish Book Annual 47 (1989-90): 145-51.
  • "Sholem Aleichem: Monologues of Mastery," Modern Language Studies 19 (1989): 25-37.
  • "I. B. Singer's Monlogues Demons," Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History 5 (1985): 263-68.
  • "Stefan Zweig and the Nazis," A Jewish Journal at Yale 1 (1983): 39-41.
Selected Articles in Edited Volumes
  • “Translations from German in Yiddish Literary History,” in Un/Translatables: New Maps for Germanic Literatures, ed. Catriona MacLeod and Bethany Wiggin (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2015).
  • "The Suppression of Yiddish by the Early Hasidim and their Opponents," in the Amsterdam Yiddish Symposium, volume 7, Between Yiddish and Hebrew, ed. Shlomo Berger (Amsterdam: Menasseh ben Israel Institute for Jewish Social and Cultural Studies, 2012): 37-53.
  • "Yiddish in Abramovitsh's Literary Revival of Hebrew," in Leket: Jiddistik heute / Yiddish Studies Today / yidishe shtudtyes haynt, ed. Marion Aptroot, Efrat Gal-Ed, Roland Gruschka, and Simon Neuberg (Düsseldorf: Düsseldorf University Press, 2012): 173-188.
  • "Innovation by Translation in Yiddish Literary History", in Arguing the Modern Jewish Canon: Essays on Literature and Culture in Honor of Ruth R. Wisse, ed. Justin Cammy, Dara Horn, et al. (Center for Jewish Studies and Harvard University Press, 2008): 417-425.
  • Entry on S. Y. Abramovitsh for the Dictionary of Literary Biography, volume 333: Writers in Yiddish, ed. Joseph Sherman (Farmington Hill, MI: Thomson Gale, 2007): 180-187.
  • “Tradition and Innovation: How Peretz Made Literary History,” in The Enduring Legacy of Yitzchok Leybush Peretz, ed. Benny Kraut (Flushing, New York: Queens College, 2006): 49-61.
  • Yiddish Literature (Encyclopedia Britannica Article) “Yiddish Literature” entry (ca. 12,000 words) in the online and CD-ROM version of EncyclopaediaBritannica (2004), also included in the 16th print edition.
Selected Book Reviews
  • Shachar Pinsker’s Literary Passports: The Making of Modernist Hebrew Fiction in Europe. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2011), in Symposium 67 (2013): 172-174.
  • Barbara Henry’s Rewriting Russia: Jacob Gordins Yiddish Drama (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2011), in Slavic Review 71 (2012).
  • Journey to a Nineteenth-Century Shtetl: The Memoirs of Yekhezkel Kotik, ed. David Assaf (Detroit, Wayne State University Press, 2002), in POLIN: Studies in Polish Jewry 18 (2005): 405-407.
  • Itsik N. Gottesman’s Defining the Yiddish Nation: The Jewish Folklorists of Poland (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2003), in AJS Review: The Journal of the Association for Jewish Studies 28 (2004): 403-404.
  • Leah Garrett’s Journeys beyond the Pale: Yiddish Travel Writing in the Modern World (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2003), in Slavic Review 63 (Summer 2004): 392-93.
  • Mikhail Krutikov’s Yiddish Fiction and the Crisis of Modernity, 1905-1914 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001), in Slavic Review 62 (Spring 2003): 217-18.
  • Allan Nadler's The Faith of the Mthnagdim: Rabbinic Responses to Hasidic Rapture (Baltimore The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997), in Religious Studies Review 25 (April 1999): 209.
  • Chana Kronfeld's On the Margins of Modernism: Decentering Literary Dynamics (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), in Symposium 52 (Winter 1999): 283-94.
  • Joseph Perl's Revealer of Secrets, trans. Dov Taylor (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1997), in Shofar 16 (1998): 188-20.
  • "The Father of Modern Yidish Literature." Review of Ruth R. Wisse's I. L. Peretz and the Making of the Modern Jewish Culture (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1991), in The Forward, 19 June 1992: 11.
  • "A Daughter of the Mother Tongue." Review of Irena Klepfisz's A Few Words in the Mother Tongue: Poems Selected and New (1971-19900 (Portland, Oregon: The Eigth Mountain Press, 1990), and Dreams of an Insomniac: Jewish Feminist Essays, Speeches and Diatribes (Portland, Oregon: The Eighth Mountain Press, 19900, in The Forward, 3 August 1990: 9, 11.
  • "S. Y. Agnon: Master of Many Voices." Review of Gershon Shaked's Shmuel Yosef Agnon: A Revolutionary Traditionalist (New York: New York University Press, 1989), in The Forward, 1 June 1990: 11.
  • Yael S. Feldman's Modernism and Cultural Transfer: Gabriel Preil and the Tradition of Jewish Literary Bilingualism (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 1986), in AJS Review: The Journal of the Association for Jewish Studies 14 (1989): 74-78.
Translations and Commentaries
  • Hasidic Satires and Parodies (Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University Press, forthcoming).
  • “Poems Written in the Days When I Was Excluded from the Party,” by Aron Vergeles, translated from the Yiddish for inclusion in an article published by Jews in Russia and Eastern Europe (2008).
  • “Childhood Joys” by Rachmiel Feldman, “My Father’s Nigun” by Shlomo Rubin, and “The Modernized Cheder” by Moshe Katz, from the Yizker-bukh fun Rakishok un umgegnt (Yizkor book of Rokiskis and environs), ed. M. Bakalczuk-Felin (Johannesburg, 1952), published online at (2005-2008).
  • “Sushi,” “Vadim,” and “The National Library,” by David Ehrlich, in Who Will Die Last: Stories of Life in Israel (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2013).
  • S. Y Abramovitsh’s The Little Man and Fishke the Lame, in Classic Yiddish Stories, ed. Ken Frieden (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2004).
  • I. L. Peretz’s Neo-Hasidic Stories, in Classic Yiddish Stories, ed. Ken Frieden (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2004).
Honors and Awards
  • Fulbright Foundation Scholar Grant, Sept.-Nov. 2012 (declined)
  • Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Fellowship, July-Aug. 2012
  • Lady Davis Visiting Professorship, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2007-2008
  • Classic Yiddish Stories: Finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, 2005
  • Harry Starr Fellowship at the Center for Jewish Studies, Harvard, 2003-2004
  • Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Fellowship, 1995
  • Visiting Scholarship, Oxford Centre for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies, Summer 1989
  • Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture Grant, 1985-86 and 1988-89
  • Yad Hanadiv/Barecha Fellowship for Research at Hebrew University, 1988-89
  • NEH Grant for Travel to Collections, 1987-88
  • Lady Davis Fellowship Trust Post-Doctoral Research Grant, 1985-86
  • YIVO Institute for Jewish Research Fellowship, 1985-86
  • ACLS Post-Doctoral Research Fellowships, 1985 and 1988-89
Selected Performances
  • Reader, Lecturer, and Clarinetist with Klezmania, From Eastern Europe to the Lower East Side: A Reading of Yiddish Stories in Translation and a Musical Performance, Limmud Oz, Melbourne, Australia, June 2012
  • Clarinetist with Jonathan Dinkin and Klezmercuse, Jewish Music and Culture Festival, Syracuse, September 2011
  • Clarinetist and Assistant Musical Director, The Dybbuk, directed by Barbara Damashek, Syracuse Stage, April 2002
  • Clarinet Soloist with Matvei Chekhtman, Classical Concert Series, Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions, Ithaca, July 1999
  • Clarinetist and Yiddish Vocalist in the Wandering Klezmorim, Ninth Annual Klezmer Festival in Safed, Israel, July 1996