Sunday, October 31, 1999

Holocaust talks keep prof on go




BY JIM KNIPPENBERG
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Here's something you don't want to try: Keeping up with Gila Safran Naveh.

        The Judaic Studies prof is in demand at UC for her courses in Holocaust Studies (she's the daughter of survivors), American Jewish Fiction and Jewish Humor in America.

        And in demand in other places, too.

        Two weeks ago, she was in Toronto, one of a few of non-MDs speaking at the Conference of Psychoanalysis and Psychology of Self. Topic: “Restoration of Self.”

        A day later she was in Florida at the Conference of the American Literature of the Holocaust, talking about “Erotics of Retrospection” as it relates to desire in the Jewish imagination in Thane Rosenbaum's Holocaust novel Second Hand Smoke.

        Next is Pittsburgh for the Conference of the Semiotics Society, a group dedicated to language and the study of hidden meanings therein. Topic: “Microsoft Gobbled up IBM: Linguistics & Language of Legal Fiction.”

        So why all the interest?

        It's pre-release buzz on two of her books:

        • The scholarly Biblical Parables and Their Modern Recreation (SUNY Press), which has caused a commotion among academics, with its modern look at Biblical stories and their application to life today. The way it weaves semantics and linguistics into the equation helped get her the Pittsburgh date.

        • Unpacking the Heart With Words (also SUNY, to be published in summer 2000), which contains interviews with female holocaust survivors on “How one re-integrates after being treated as a sub-human.”

        It's about restoration of self, same topic as the Toronto and Florida dates. Her lectures deal with aspects of the self in Holocaust survivors and offspring of survivors.

        PARTY PLANS: Egad, the things people are saying about this party! And not saying!

        “We're still inventing, but I promise everything you least expect in a benefit — you'll go away thinking, "this makes up for 1,000 boring benefits.' ”

        That's designer John Harrison at Js Fresh Seafood, talking about Cirque du Bizarre, an Oct. 7, 2000 AIDS Volunteers of Cincinnati fund-raiser. “It's about production — lights, interactive artists, surprises.”

        Such as? “Then it wouldn't be a surprise, would it?” he asked when pressed.

        Some food-loving guests — developer David Herriman, designer Dale Lamson, volunteers Bill and Joanie Lotts, arts activists Val and Bill Sena, producer Joe Rigotti — were talking chow after chef Jimmy Gherardi shared a surprise: 10 local and eight national chefs whipping up dinner.

        Names? That's the surprise, Gherardi said, confiding that TV chefs Surreal Gourmet and Blondie are confirmed.

        Cirque chair Melody Sawyer Richardson promises “things you've never seen here” but wouldn't share surprises, even after her first encounter with a Coon Dog (a powerful after-dinner drink of half Crown Royale and half Chambord).

        MADAME PRESIDENT: Kathy Wyatt, meanwhile, is going national.

        She'll be named president of the 5,000-member United Order of True Sisters, a volunteer group founded in 1847 and dedicated to fund-raising for an assortment of charities, at a lunch today.

        No easy job this: It's a two-year term in which she's supposed to recruit young members (“we're an older group in need of new blood”); establish new chapters (“I'm working with New Orleans right now”); hit at least three board meetings in Albany and oversee the group's national charity — Cancer Camp for Kids, offering special care and help with finances.

        All this sandwiched between a job as director of customer care at Anderson Publishing and planning her wedding for next year.

        Knip's Eye View appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Have an item to report? Call Jim Knippenberg at 768-8513; fax: 768-8330.

        Psst! appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Have an item to report? Call Jim Knippenberg at 768-8513; fax: 768-8330.

KNIPPENBERG ARCHIVE