Abstract

In March 1908 the Chicago Police Chief shot Lazarus Averbuch, a young, Russian Jewish immigrant, claiming self-defense against an anarchist plot. Jane Addams refused to join the public's outcry of support for their chief, declaring that she had the obligation to interpret rather than denounce the incident. Her analysis of Averbuch's killing, given in her essay, "The Chicago Settlements and Social Unrest," provides a focal point for seeing how interpretation functions as a unifying theoretical category for Addams, bringing together her activism, her style of writing, and her philosophy of social change. Addams's conception of interpretation is multi-faceted and dynamic; the interweaving lines of contrapuntal music give a fitting metaphor. I analyze the essay's presentation of interpretation in terms of three contrapuntal voice-lines: as dramatization, as mediation-advocacy, and as reconstruction.

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