I am excited to join my voice to the chorus and to be blogging with such learned colleagues! My name is Marisa Harford (aka General Anna, a character from the children's novel The Pushcart War) and am an educator by profession. The strengths of my background lie in literary analysis and theory; I am one of those nerdy Robert Alter devotees-- I nearly plotzed when he signed my copy of his translation of Tehilim last year. My Jewish education has been heterogeneous and informal-- Hebrew and Tanach in college, a course here, a summer of Talmud at Drisha there, a year of Mishnah chevruta there-- and I look forward to expanding my knowledge in many ways this year.
My blog posts will probably fall into one of three categories:
1. Close reading of the text in Hebrew and analysis of how the literary forms and conventions contribute to meaning
2. Commentary on the cultural dimensions of the text-- what does the text tell us about the values, culture, worldview, etc. of the authors and the translators? What is the relationship between the source texts and the aggadot they inspire and what does that tell us about the author's interpretive stance?
3. Commentary on the implications of the texts with regard to ethics, morals, and social justice
Telling stories is one of the most powerful ways in which human beings make meaning of the world-- so reading and commenting on aggadot is one of the best ways to access the tradition of Jewish textual response and creation and to take part in that grand tradition. I am so excited to be embarking on that journey of meaning-making with you all.