Sunday, April 5, 2009

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern teaches Jewish history in the History Department and the Crown Family Center for Jewish Studies, Northwestern University. He publishes frequently in the areas of East European history and culture and Jewish studies.

His new book is The Anti-Imperial Choice: The Making of the Ukrainian Jew.

Earlier this week I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I am a bizarre reader. As a rule, I am trying to read something very different from what I am writing/researching at that time. Over the last three months I have been working on a book on Vladimir Lenin, which is my third monograph. Of course, I had to read through 55 vols. of Lenin's complete works (in Russian). Yet I cannot say "I read Lenin." Rather I should modestly say, I did my research on him. What I read was different.

Thus, for example, I finished Nathan Englander's novel The Ministry of Special Cases--a very unsettling and remarkably written book which made use of narrative patterns of Gogol, Kafka, and Faulkler.

I read a chapter from Shney Lukhot Ha-Brit (Two Tablets of Law), a key 17th century book in Kabbalah.

And I finished two chapters of a manual of 1,000 chess problems--by "finishing" I imply that I managed to solve about 80.

But all of that does not get even close to the amount of reading I do on-line--yet this is what I scan rather than read.
Read an excerpt from The Anti-Imperial Choice and learn more about the book at the Yale University Press website.

Learn more about Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern at his faculty webpage.

--Marshal Zeringue