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Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 16Focusing on Jewish Popular Culture and Its Afterlife$
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Michael C. Steinlauf and Antony Polonsky

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9781874774730

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781874774730.001.0001

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(p.3) Introduction
Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 16

Michael C. Steinlauf

Liverpool University Press

This introductory chapter provides an overview of Jewish popular culture. The Jewish engagement with modernity in the Polish lands brought masses of Jews out of their small-town communities and into the tumult of urban life. A Jewish mass culture resulted that shaped Jewish life in Poland until its end. This culture was constructed above all around the possibilities of Yiddish, the vernacular language of Polish Jews. But the culture far transcended literature and included a diverse array of phenomena including mass-circulation newspapers and magazines, music, theatre, and material artefacts of various kinds. For several generations of Polish Jews, this culture defined the texture of everyday life. Yet the popular culture these Polish Jews created to serve their daily needs is largely unknown. This is a consequence of a well-known bias at the origin of modern Jewish scholarship.

Keywords:   Jewish popular culture, modernity, Jewish mass culture, Jewish life, Poland, Yiddish language, Polish Jews, Jewish scholarship

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