Writer Ruth Ellen Gruber gives two lectures at The University of Alabama:

Imaginary Spaces, Dark Tourism, and Writing about Difficult Topics for a General Audience: A Conversation with Ruth Ellen Gruber

205 Gorgas Library, Monday, February 25, 7 PM

Structured as a conversation, Marysia Galbraith (New College and Department of Anthropology) asks Ruth about her work on “Virtually Jewish” heritage in Europe, “Wild West” theme parks, tourism at sites of terror, Holocaust, and slavery, and the practice of writing for traditional print media as well as digital venues like her website “Jewish Heritage Europe.”


Beyond Virtually Jewish: New Realities and Real Imaginary Spaces

215 Lloyd Hall, Tuesday, February 26, 12:30-1:45 PM

Ruth discusses new forms of Jewishness, Jewish practice, and religious and cultural expression. She describes how she coined the term “Virtually Jewish” to describe non-Jewish involvement, embrace, appropriation and engagement with Jews and Jewish culture — and what that means in today’s changing conditions. She discusses new realities and new authenticities; new definitions of “Jewish.” And she takes her audience on tours to Kazimierz, the old Jewish quarter of Krakow, and other Jewish spaces and places where community and commercialism combine and collide.


Ruth Ellen Gruber in the Kazimierz District of Krakow, Poland. Photo credit: Chuck Fishman

Ruth Ellen Gruber has worked on Jewish heritage issues and chronicled Jewish developments in Europe for three decades and currently coordinates the web site www.jewish-heritage-europe.eu. (She also studies the European fascination with the American Wild West, its mythology and its music.) With her 2012 book Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe, she coined the term “Virtually Jewish” to describe the way the so-called “Jewish space” in Europe is often filled by non-Jews. Among her other books are National Geographic Jewish Heritage Travel: A Guide to Eastern Europe, first published in 1992; Letters from Europe (and Elsewhere), and Upon the Doorposts of Thy House: Jewish Life in East-Central Europe, Yesterday and Today. A former correspondent for UPI in Poland and elsewhere in communist Europe, she has written for many publications, both popular and scholarly. Her awards and honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship and Poland’s Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit. She was the Distinguished Visiting Chair in Jewish Studies at the College of Charleston (South Carolina) spring semester, 2015.

Sponsored by: College of Arts and Sciences, New College, Department of Anthropology, Department of Religious Studies, Department of Journalism and Creative Media, and Blount Scholars Program