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Transferring to America

Jewish Interpretations of American Dreams

Rael Meyerowitz

Publication Year: 1995

This book uses recent psychoanalytic theory to analyze the work of three contemporary scholars--Harold Bloom, Stanley Cavell, and Sacvan Bercovitch--while viewing their work as expressing Jewish immigrant desires for integration into American culture. This book primarily concerns the work of three prominent literary scholars, Harold Bloom, Stanley Cavell, and Sacvan Bercovitch, treating them as second-generation immigrant Jewish Americans. With at least two meanings of “transferring” in mind, the title alludes both to the historical, socio-cultural actualities of immigrancy, and to the psychoanalytic model used to describe the relations between these readers and the American texts they interpret. The central claim is that the theories and critical practices of Bercovitch, Bloom, and Cavell can be considered as the tools and tactics of an ambivalent, not yet fully realized desire for integration into America. Their cultural identity as members of the Jewish minority in America can thus still be seen to operate as a compelling source of anxiety and motivation.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in Modern Jewish Literature and Culture


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pp. ix-xvi

It will soon become evident to readers that this project is in no small measure the fruit of my own fairly recent transfer, and hence transference, to America, so I might as well acknowledge as much at the outset and declare it without further ado. On the other hand, however, a self-dramatizing opening gambit...

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pp. xvii-xviii

At various moments in the course of composing this book, both Sacvan Bercovitch and Stanley Cavell were asked to undertake the delicate and disconcerting task of reading drafts of a manuscript pertaining very directly and personally to their own lives as well as to their work. Their responses could hardly have been more gracious, generous, or encouraging...

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Introduction: The Tactics of Cultural Integration

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pp. 1-38

It would be useful to start by marking out the parameters and indicating the complexity of the terrain upon which this particular study of the work of Harold Bloom, Stanley Cavell, and Sacvan Bercovitch will take place. Before doing so, it is worth pausing to note that there is no need to delve very far into the work of these scholars to discover that each of them is acutely...

Part One

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1. Sources of Assistance: French Theory and Psychoanalysis

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pp. 41-76

To repeat, then: this book's primary purpose is to treat the intellectual and scholarly projects of Bloom, Cavell, and Bercovitch in the light of the fact that they are all second-generation immigrant sons whose work reveals the aspirations and anxieties of ongoing attempts to locate themselves within their adoptive culture...

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2. Prospects of Culture: Interpreting American Dreams

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pp. 77-124

Here is another story: A favorite son, adept at understanding dreams, finds himself first plotted against and betrayed by his siblings, then forcibly exiled and later imprisoned in a foreign land. However, in the course of time his special skill enables him not only to extricate himself from a precarious predicament, but to rise to a position of considerable power at the right hand of his new country's leader...

Part Two

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3. Wrest(l)ing Authority: The Agonism of Harold Bloom

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pp. 127-166

Harold Bloom's work over the last decade or so leaves his readers in no doubt as to his interest in, and indeed commitment to, Jewishness. Looking back, one gets a sense of growth, a veritable burgeoning of this new tendency...

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4. Finding Acknowledgment: The Inheritance of Stanley Cavell

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pp. 167-214

One motivating factor in the decision to include Stanley Cavell in this project is the complex conjoining in his work of the Jewish with the ordinary.1 My interest in this juxtaposition, and in Cavell's self-conscious preoccupation with American ordinariness, as embodied both in the writings of Thoreau and Emerson and in Hollywood film...

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5. Identifying Rhetorics: The Acculturation of Sacvan Bercovitch

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pp. 215-260

Where it might be difficult, even at a stretch of the imagination, to see the work of either Bloom or Cavell fitting at all comfortably into an Americanist or American cultural studies context as such, Sacvan Bercovitch does seem broadly speaking and ostensibly to belong under this rubric. Insofar as one provisionally accepts...

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pp. 261-274

I wish here-in necessarily succinct and cursory fashion-to place both the work of Bloom, Cavell, and Bercovitch and my own effort to bring them together under the aegis of this book's theses in the context of the contemporary critical and theoretical scene. This requires comparison and contrast not only with other...


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pp. 275-294


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pp. 295-302

E-ISBN-13: 9781438412955
E-ISBN-10: 1438412959
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791426074
Print-ISBN-10: 0791426076

Page Count: 302
Publication Year: 1995

Series Title: SUNY series in Modern Jewish Literature and Culture