Indiana University Press

Jewish Literature and Culture

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Jewish Literature and Culture

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Abraham Geiger's Liberal Judaism

Personal Meaning and Religious Authority

Ken Koltun-Fromm

German rabbi, scholar, and theologian Abraham Geiger (1810--1874) is recognized as the principal leader of the Reform movement in German Judaism. In his new work, Ken Koltun-Fromm argues that for Geiger personal meaning in religion -- rather than rote ritual practice or acceptance of dogma -- was the key to religion's moral authority. In five chapters, the book explores issues central to Geiger's work that speak to contemporary Jewish practice -- historical memory, biblical interpretation, ritual and gender practices, rabbinic authority, and Jewish education. This is essential reading for scholars, rabbis, rabbinical students, and informed Jewish readers interested in Conservative and Reform Judaism.

Published with the generous support of the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation.

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Aharon Appelfeld's Fiction

Acknowledging the Holocaust

Emily Miller Budick

How can a fictional text adequately or meaningfully represent the events of the Holocaust? Drawing on philosopher Stanley Cavell's ideas about "acknowledgment" as a respectful attentiveness to the world, Emily Miller Budick develops a penetrating philosophical analysis of major works by internationally prominent Israeli writer Aharon Appelfeld. Through sensitive discussions of the novels Badenheim 1939, The Iron Tracks, The Age of Wonders, and Tzili, and the autobiographical work The Story of My Life, Budick reveals the compelling art with which Appelfeld renders the sights, sensations, and experiences of European Jewish life preceding, during, and after the Second World War. She argues that it is through acknowledging the incompleteness of our knowledge and understanding of the catastrophe that Appelfeld's fiction produces not only its stunning aesthetic power but its affirmation and faith in both the human and the divine. This beautifully written book provides a moving introduction to the work of an important and powerful writer and an enlightening meditation on how fictional texts deepen our understanding of historical events.

Jewish Literature and Culture -- Alvin H. Rosenfeld, editor

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Contemporary Jewish Writing in Europe

A Guide

Edited by Vivian Liska and Thomas Nolden. Foreword by Alvin H. Rosenfeld

With contributions from a dozen American and European scholars, this volume presents an overview of Jewish writing in post--World War II Europe. Striking a balance between close readings of individual texts and general surveys of larger movements and underlying themes, the essays portray Jewish authors across Europe as writers and intellectuals of multiple affiliations and hybrid identities. Aimed at a general readership and guided by the idea of constructing bridges across national cultures, this book maps for English-speaking readers the productivity and diversity of Jewish writers and writing that has marked a revitalization of Jewish culture in France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Hungary, Poland, and Russia.

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Elie Wiesel

Jewish, Literary, and Moral Perspectives

Edited by Steven T. Katz and Alan Rosen

Nobel Peace Prize recipient Elie Wiesel, best known for his writings on the Holocaust, is also the accomplished author of novels, essays, tales, and plays as well as portraits of seminal figures in Jewish life and experience. In this volume, leading scholars in the fields of Biblical, Rabbinic, Hasidic, Holocaust, and literary studies offer fascinating and innovative analyses of Wiesel's texts as well as illuminating commentaries on his considerable influence as a teacher and as a moral voice for human rights. By exploring the varied aspects of Wiesel's multifaceted career—his texts on the Bible, the Talmud, and Hasidism as well as his literary works, his teaching, and his testimony—this thought-provoking volume adds depth to our understanding of the impact of this important man of letters and towering international figure.

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Exiles on Main Street

Jewish American Writers and American Literary Culture

Julian Levinson

How have Jews reshaped their identities as Jews in the face of the radical newness called America? Julian Levinson explores the ways in which exposure to American literary culture -- in particular the visionary tradition identified with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman -- led American Jewish writers to a new understanding of themselves as Jews. Discussing the lives and work of writers such as Emma Lazarus, Mary Antin, Ludwig Lewisohn, Waldo Frank, Anzia Yezierska, I. J. Schwartz, Alfred Kazin, and Irving Howe, Levinson concludes that their interaction with American culture led them to improvise new and meaningful ways of being Jewish. In contrast to the often expressed view that the diaspora experience leads to assimilation, Exiles on Main Street traces an arc of return to Jewish identification and describes a vital and creative Jewish American literary culture.

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German-Jewish Thought and Its Afterlife

A Tenuous Legacy

Vivian Liska

InGerman-Jewish Thought and Its Afterlife,Vivian Liska innovatively focuses on the changing form, fate and function of messianism, law, exile, election, remembrance, and the transmission of tradition itself in three different temporal and intellectual frameworks: German-Jewish modernism, postmodernism, and the current period. Highlighting these elements of theJewish tradition in the works of Franz Kafka, Walter Benjamin, Gershom Scholem, Hannah Arendt, and Paul Celan, Liska reflects on dialogues and conversations between themandonthereception of their work.She shows how this Jewish dimension of their writings is transformed, but remains significant in the theories of Maurice Blanchot and Jacques Derrida and how it is appropriated, dismissed or denied by some of the most acclaimed thinkers at the turn of the twenty-first century such as Giorgio Agamben, Slavoj Žižek, and Alain Badiou.

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Ladino Rabbinic Literature and Ottoman Sephardic Culture

Matthias B. Lehmann

In this pathbreaking book, Matthias B. Lehmann explores Ottoman Sephardic culture in an era of change through a close study of popularized rabbinic texts written in Ladino, the vernacular language of the Ottoman Jews. This vernacular literature, standing at the crossroads of rabbinic elite and popular cultures and of Hebrew and Ladino discourses, sheds valuable light on the modernization of Sephardic Jewry in the Eastern Mediterranean in the 19th century. By helping to form a Ladino reading public and imparting shape to its values, the authors of this literature negotiated between perpetuating rabbinic tradition and addressing the challenges of modernity. The book offers close readings of works that examine issues such as social inequality, exile and diaspora, gender, secularization, and the clash between scientific and rabbinic knowledge. Ladino Rabbinic Literature and Ottoman Sephardic Culture will be welcomed by scholars of Sephardic as well as European Jewish history, culture, and religion.

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Moses Hess and Modern Jewish Identity

Ken Koltun-Fromm

"Koltun-Fromm's reading of Hess is of crucial import for those who study the construction of self in the modern world as well as for those who are concerned with Hess and his contributions to modern thought.... a reading of Hess that is subtle, judicious, insightful, and well supported." -- David Ellenson

Moses Hess, a fascinating 19th-century German Jewish intellectual figure, was at times religious and secular, traditional and modern, practical and theoretical, socialist and nationalist. Ken Koltun-Fromm's radical reinterpretation of his writings shows Hess as a Jew struggling with the meaning of conflicting commitments and impulses. Modern readers will realize that in Hess's life, as in their own, these commitments remain fragmented and torn. As contemporary Jews negotiate multiple, often contradictory allegiances in the modern world, Koltun-Fromm argues that Hess's struggle to unite conflicting traditions and frameworks of meaning offers intellectual and practical resources to re-examine the dilemmas of modern Jewish identity. Adopting Charles Taylor's philosophical theory of the self to uncover Hess's various commitments, Koltun-Fromm demonstrates that Hess offers a rich, textured, though deeply conflicted and torn account of the modern Jew. This groundbreaking study in conceptions of identity in modern Jewish texts is a vital contribution to the diverse fields of Jewish intellectual history, philosophy, Zionism, and religious studies.

Jewish Literature and Culture -- Alvin H. Rosenfeld, editor
Published with the generous support of the Koret Foundation

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Pioneers

A Tale of Russian-Jewish Life in the 1880s

Translated by Michael R. Katz. S. A. An-sky

S. A. An-sky's novel dramatizes the dilemmas of Jewish young people in late Tsarist Russia as they strive to throw off their traditional religious upbringing to adopt a secular and modern identity. The action unfolds in the town of M. in the Pale of Settlement, where an engaging cast of characters wrestles with cultural and social issues. Their exploits culminate in helping a young Jewish woman evade an arranged marriage and a young Russian woman leave home so she can pursue her studies at a European university. This startling novel reveals the tensions and triumphs of coming of age in a revolutionary time.

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Post-Holocaust

Interpretation, Misinterpretation, and the Claims of History

Berel Lang

"These essays are extremely well written, with the clarity and accessibility that one has come to expect from Berel Lang, one of the most respected and significant philosophers writing about the Holocaust and its impact." -- Michael L. Morgan

In these trenchant essays, philosopher Berel Lang examines post-Holocaust intepretations -- and misinterpretations -- showing the ways in which rhetoric and ideology have affected historical discourse about the Holocaust and how these accounts can be deconstructed. Why didn't the Jews resist? How could the Germans have done what they did? Why didn't more bystanders join in the rescue? In Lang's view, these questions become mischievous when the circumstances in which victims, perpetrators, and bystanders played their roles are omitted or obscured. To confront such issues adequately requires comparative and contextual evidence. Post-Holocaust addresses such questions as the place of the Holocaust in the Nazi project as a whole, the roles of revenge and forgiveness in post-Holocaust Jewish thinking, Holocaust commemoration as artifice or "business," and the relationship of the Holocaust to traditional antisemitism. Lang's analysis provides an incisive and fruitful basis for confronting these critical subjects.

Jewish Literature and Culture -- Alvin H. Rosenfeld, editor

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