In this extended review of Adam Zachary Newton's Jewish Studies as Counterlife: A Report to the Academy, Lila Corwin Berman explores the different life—immersed in theory, interdisciplinarity, and self-reflexivity—that Newton imagines for Jewish studies. A highly theoretical text, Newton's book demands close reading and patience, yet the payoff is significant. His contention that Jewish studies should seek new registers through which to liberate itself from its narrowest straits and instead build bridges across the university offers a powerful model for the future of the field. Yet Newton's approach appears to fold in on itself as he advances the imagery of "pitchforks" and "levers" to describe the Jewish studies he wishes to bring into being. Berman challenges his choices of metaphors and notes the implicit masculinity they—and, thus, Newton's approach—communicate about a field that traditionally prioritized men's experiences and voices. In this way, the book falls short of advancing a truly counter life.


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pp. 95-100
Launched on MUSE
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