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Drew University Hosts 10th Annual Dean Hopper Conference

Exploring “Modes of Belonging: Kinship, Exile, and Translation”

March 2023 – Drew University celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Dean Hopper Conference with a timely theme, “Modes of Belonging: Kinship, Exile, and Translation.”

The Dean Hopper Conference was inaugurated to bring graduate and junior scholars from different fields to examine current events or circumstances from a historical perspective.

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Keynote speaker Eli Rosenblatt

The conference theme was explored extensively through presentations from Drew students and scholars across the globe by seeking interdisciplinary involvement with the notion of “belonging” in cultural, historical, political, and theoretical contexts.

Traditionally, the annual event is hosted by Drew’s Caspersen School of Graduate Studies. This year, the event was co-hosted with Drew Theological School. 

“The embracement of the interdisciplinary spirit of Drew University was shown through the international scope the conference had by having participants from different parts of the world!” said event co-organizer Hamza Radid, PhD candidate and assistant professor at Drew’s College of Liberal Arts.

“This opportunity has allowed us to expand Dean Hopper’s goal of not simply providing an historical examination of belonging, but of a broader sense of humanistic inquiry.”

Radid, whose dissertation discusses the concept of transnational and translocation belonging, presented “Print Media and Representation: Moroccan Ethnic Newspaper Al Jaliyah and the Discourse of Belonging.”

“We have had Theological School students participate in Dean Hopper Conferences as presenters in the past,” said event co-organizer Michael Anderson, PhD candidate and program assistant at the Theological School. “This year’s conference was the first time we were able to collaborate as colleagues in an academic way, which is really exciting and I think promises so many new opportunities for our respective communities—let alone for the future of the conference.”

“This event is a wonderful celebration of our community, our history, and of the scholarly work our students are so regularly engaged in,” said Provost Jessica Lakin, who opened the event. 

“There’s nothing more exciting than being able to come to a point where you’re discussing really interesting and deeply complicated ideas with other individuals who share those interests and perspectives of scholarship that helps us to advance our understanding of these important ideas.”

The conference welcomed Eli Rosenblatt, Wallerstein Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and director of Jewish studies as the keynote speaker. Rosenblatt magnified and explored the conference theme through his presentation titled “Pharaoh’s Tsar: Yiddish Transadaptations of Harlem Renaissance Writing In between the Two World Wars.”

Through examples of archival Yiddish translations of African American literature during the Harlem Renaissance of the early twentieth century, Rosenblatt revealed how Yiddish immigrants addressed Black subjects and Black subjectivity. 

“Scholarship about Yiddish literature and race has cast a desire to speak for a copious Yiddish depictions of American racism encode an ethical stance against such violence through their advocation of Jewish trauma and serve as the foundational stance through which Yiddish poets engaged the violence of anti-Black racism in America,” said Rosenblatt.

The day-long event featured six panel discussions with speaking topics ranging from religious communities, histories and expressions of self-identity, theorizations of home and homeland, and more.

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