This review essay considers Adam Newton's book Jewish Studies as Counterlife through the lens of modern Hebrew and comparative literary studies. I begin by reflecting on Newton's articulation of the problems plaguing Jewish studies in the American academy, and on his proposal of a "Jewish Studies to come"–a vision based on relationality, interruption, and sharing that moves beyond disciplines, interdisciplinarity, and the academy itself. Bringing these ideas into conversation with my own experience as a scholar of Hebrew and comparative literature, I outline my ambivalence regarding my positionality within Jewish studies, a field that is by definition concerned with Jewish and Judaic matters and that has privileged history and religious studies over literature and culture. The expansion of the field and the permeability of its boundaries, however, have created the conditions for my own active participation in its institutions, suggesting that Newton's vision has already started to take shape. Newton's book, more a manifesto then a report, does the crucial work of theorizing these shifts and their potential not only for Jewish studies but also, critically, for the humanities more broadly. In posing a new set of questions and bypassing the conventional concerns undergirding attempts to define, understand, and situate Jewish studies, Newton invites "the uncontainable" into Jewish studies and Jewish studies–in all its uncontainability–more fully into the humanities. Jewish Studies as Counterlife makes a radical, viable, and imaginative case for inclusion within Jewish studies as well as of Jewish studies.


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pp. 86-94
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