UMass To Host a Day-Long Celebration Of The Life And Work Of Jules Chametzky


Jules Chametzky. Photo: Amherst Media

Source: UMass News and Media

The University of Massachusetts Amherst will host a day-long celebration of the life and work of Jules Chametzky, founding editor of the Massachusetts Review and Professor Emeritus of English at UMass Amherst, Friday, October. 7 at Old Chapel.

Chametzky, who died in September 2021, was an early president of the Massachusetts Society of Professors, the first director of UMass’s Interdisciplinary Studies Institute and co-signatory at the founding of the national Community of Literary Magazines and Presses.

The Legacy of Jules Chametzky: Honoring the Intellect, Fostering Justice and Equality,” will start at 9 a.m. with friends and family offering their memories. During the morning, a discussion of “Black Reparations: Today and Tomorrow” will be held via Zoom, with Duke economist William A. Darity Jr.

An afternoon symposium will include an assortment of well-known writers and scholars, including poet Doug Anderson; writer, artist and astrophysicist Nia Imara; poet Hilene Flanzbaum, translator and scholar Jacqueline Loss, poet Nathan McClain, novelist Robin McLean; essayist and novelist Hilary Plum; and linguist J. Michael Terry. Renowned American studies scholar Werner Sollors will also speak on “Chametzkyan Studies and Its Future.”

An expert in American Jewish and ethnic literatures, Chametzky’s books included “Out of Brownsville,” “From the Ghetto: The Fiction of Abraham Cahan,” “Our Decentralized Literature” and “Jewish-American Literature: A Norton Anthology.” A founder of – and, for many years, the editor of – the Massachusetts Review, Chametzky began teaching at UMass Amherst in 1958 and later at universities in Zagreb, Venice, Berlin, Copenhagen, Freiburg and Tübingen.

In 1969, he and his UMass Amherst colleague Sidney Kaplan edited “Black & White in American Culture,” an anthology of essays and stories from the Massachusetts Review’s first 10 years, dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr. In a review of the book in The New York Times, critic Julius Lester wrote “this collection is more than a documentary. It is an exciting book, with a higher degree of relevance to an America on the eve of a second Civil War than almost any book of its kind.”

Chametzky received the Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States (MELUS) Award for Distinguished Contribution to Ethnic Studies in 1995 and, in 2010, the Massachusetts Review established an annual Jules Chametzky Translation Prize, awarded to a translation published in the magazine to honor both his role at the Massachusetts Review and his contributions in advancing cross-cultural understanding.

“The Legacy of Jules Chametzky: Honoring the Intellect, Fostering Justice and Equality,” is sponsored by the Offices of the Chancellor, the Provost, and the Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts, and by the Departments of Afro-American Studies, English, History, Judaic and Near Eastern Studies, and Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, and by the Program in Comparative Literature and the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies at UMass Amherst. The event is also supported by the Office of the Provost and the Department of American Studies at Amherst College, the Department of English and the Program in American Studies at Smith College, and the Jackie Pritzen Fund at Five Colleges, Inc., as well as by the Massachusetts Society of Professors and the Massachusetts Review.

More information about the event can be found on the UMass Amherst events site.

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