restricted access Whose Modernism Is It? Abraham Cahan, Fictions of Yiddish, and the Contest of Modernity

Rereading literary histories from the vantage point of the Lower East Side foregrounds the unacknowledged power of immigrant culture-makers and of Yiddishkeit institutions as a shaping force in the creation of an American cultural response to the challenges of modernity. Abraham Cahan's short fiction in English limns the paradox for the immigrant intellectual whose engagements with "native" culture are both socially transformative and invisible. In these texts, we can read an allegory of the Yiddish-language intellectual, laboring at the birth of alternative modernisms, in a history of mutual borrowings that has never been fully translated or recorded.