Graduate Research Colloquium: Prof. Halina Goldberg (Indiana University-Bloomington)

Free to attend. Please note that this week's talk is a virtual event, and will not be operating in a hybrid format, to register please complete this sign-up form.

Celebrated as Poland’s first national ballet, Wesele krakowskie w Ojcowie (A Cracovian Wedding in Ojców; often shortened as A Wedding in Ojców) premiered in 1823. During the nineteenth-century, it was the most popular Polish ballet, and it continues to maintain its historic place in the Poland’s ballet repertory. The inn, which was a central element of the scenography for the operas that inspired A Wedding in Ojców, was also found in the early stagings of this ballet and in the many spin-off productions that followed. By the late nineteenth century these stagings also included dancing Jews among its cast of characters. In 1921, the representation of dancing Jews in the ballet Karczma (The Inn), an offshoot of A Wedding in Ojców, so offended Jewish audiences at the Warsaw Grand Theater that they staged a protest, with the police intervening in the ensuing brawl between Jewish and gentile spectators. This examination of previously untapped archival sources aims to historicize the presence of the Jewish inn and innkeepers in Polish ballet and to nuance and contextualize our understanding of the clashing reactions of Jewish and gentile audiences to the phenomenon.  I discuss the deeply problematic representations of dancing Jews (often called majufes/mayufes) that were already found in the traditional nativity plays (szopka) and throughout the second half of the nineteenth century in lowbrow theater. Likewise, the anger of Jewish audiences about the prevalence of Jewish caricatures on stage simmered quietly for half a century, erupting occasionally during theatrical performances, before it exploded at the Grand Theater in response to Karczma.

Halina Goldberg is professor of music in musicology at the Jacobs School of Music and affiliate faculty of the Robert A. and Sandra S. Borns Jewish Studies Program and the Russian and East European Institute.

Goldberg interests focus on the interconnected Polish and Jewish cultures.  Much of her work is interdisciplinary engaging the areas of cultural studies, music and politics, performance practice, and reception, with special focus on 19th- and 20th-century Poland and Eastern Europe, Chopin, and Jewish studies.

Goldberg is the author of Music in Chopin's Warsaw (Oxford University Press, 2008; Polish translation, O muzyce w Warszawie Chopina, 2016), and editor of The Age of Chopin: Interdisciplinary Inquiries (Indiana University Press, 2004). She has has written articles on various aspects of Chopin's music, national constructs in Glinka's music, and the participation of nineteenth-century Jewish musicians in the articulation of Polish musical identity. 

She is presently working on the two larger projects: one deals with music in 19th-century albums, the other with Jews and Jewishness in 19th-century Poland. She also serves as the Project Director for the Digital Scholarly Commons dedicated to the study of Jewish Life in Pre-World War II Łódź.

Photo credit: Illustration to Oskar Kolberg’s ethnographic “The Kraków Szopka” from the 1871 The Folk (Kraków: Stella, ca. 1910).  Kraków, postcard from the collection of Marek Sosenko.

About the series:
The Colloquia feature leading figures, as well as younger scholars, from across the world. They present their research in papers on all kinds of music-related topics. Graduate students Chuyu Zhang and Eugenie Dalgleish organise the series. Presentations are followed by a discussion and drinks reception. If you would like more information, please email Chuyu Zhang.