Past Event

Midnight Politics: the Legend of Shaul Wahl, a Jew who Became King of Poland for One Night, and Its Political Worlds

November 2, 2022
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
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1219 International Affairs Building

Important Note

Registration required. Please note that all attendees must follow Columbia’s COVID-19 Policies and Guidelines. Columbia University is committed to protecting the health and safety of its community.  To that end, all visiting alumni and guests must meet the University requirement of full vaccination status in order to attend in-person events.  Vaccination cards may be checked upon entry to all venues. 

Please join us for a discussion with Ofer Dynes. In 2014, during an official visit to Poland, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin shared a personal anecdote. According to an 18th-century family tradition, one of his ancestors was elected King of Poland for one night. In other words, the head of the State of Israel was also a claimant to the Polish throne. How can we make sense of this statement? Drawing on archival research as well as Eastern European political thought, Professor Dynes will reflect on the meaning of this legend and its complex political imaginaries in its historical and contemporary contexts. Moderated by Valentina Izmirlieva, Director of the Harriman Institute. This event is part of a Director’s Seminar series, which allows new Harriman faculty members to introduce their research to both colleagues and students across disciplinary and departmental divides.

Ofer Dynes is Leonard Kaye Assistant Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Columbia University. His research has been supported by the Posen Society of Fellows, The Center for Jewish History in New York, The Leibniz Institute for Jewish History and Culture, the Austrian Fund for Social Sciences, and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, among other institutions. He is currently completing a book manuscript entitled The Fiction of the State: The Polish Partitions and the Beginning of Modern Jewish Literature (1772-1848). He has also co-edited a special volume of Prooftexts, entitled The Beginnings of Modern Jewish Language in Europe, with Naomi Seidman (University of Toronto). Dynes is a co-founder and organizer of the Hebrew Lab Faculty Seminar, a New York-based workgroup for Hebrew literature scholars.