Thinking Jewish Culture in America
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Thinking Jewish Culture in America

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Thinking Jewish Culture in America argues that Jewish thought extends our awareness and deepens the complexity of American Jewish culture. This volume stretches the disciplinary boundaries of Jewish thought so that it can productively engage expanding arenas of culture by drawing Jewish thought into the orbit of cultural studies. The eleven contributors to Thinking Jewish Cultures, together with Chancellor Arnold Eisen's postscript, position Jewish thought within the dynamics and possibilities of contemporary Jewish culture. These diverse essays in Jewish thought re-imagine cultural space as a public and sometimes contested performance of Jewish identity, and they each seek to re-enliven that space with reflective accounts of cultural meaning. How do Jews imagine themselves as embodied actors in America? Do cultural obligations limit or expand notions of the self? How should we imagine Jewish thought as a cultural performance? What notions of peoplehood might sustain a vibrant Jewish collectivity in a globalized economy? How do programs in Jewish studies work within the academy? These and other questions engage both Jewish thought and culture, opening space for theoretical works to broaden the range of cultural studies, and to deepen our understanding of Jewish cultural dynamics. Thinking Jewish Culture is a work about Jewish cultural identity reflected through literature, visual arts, philosophy, and theology. But it is more than a mere reflection of cultural patterns and choices: the argument pursued throughout Thinking Jewish Culture is that reflective sources help produce the very cultural meanings and performances they purport to analyze.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 346 pages
  • 157.48 x 231.14 x 27.94mm | 589.67g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0739174460
  • 9780739174463

Review quote

This set of eleven essays ... tackles one of the most elusive and absorbing issues to confront both historians and the contemporary Jewish community. American Jewish History Inspired by the work of Arnold Eisen, this timely and provocative collection of essays explores the intersection between Judaism as a living culture and modern Jewish thought. Culture is represented by Jewish peoplehood, democratic solidarity, higher education, literature, photography, maternity, visuality, and works as diverse as the poetry of Paul Celan and The Jewish Catalogue. But what distinguishes these essays is the novel and intriguing ways in which these and other cultural venues in which Jews and Jewish life are invested raise questions for and provoke surprising reflections on modern Jewish thinkers from Buber, Rosenzweig, and Levinas to Soloveitchik, Heschel, Kaplan, and Wyschogrod. There are many perspectives one might take on these efforts, but surely one is to consider the future possibilities for understanding the Jewish experience in all its fullness. If this involves returning to canonical Jewish thinkers, we may find future students following the direction plotted by the book's contributors, seeking to find their way to those thinkers from recent interest in art and technology, material culture, corporeality and gender, and the concreteness of everyday life. -- Michael L. Morgan, Indiana University Thinking Jewish Culture is a breakout volume in the continued transition of the study of Jewish thought from a purely textual to a cultural studies perspective. These essays integrate identity, literature, education, art and material culture, and history to broaden the way we should think about Jewishness and Judaism as both interrelated and distinct subjects of research. This book will certainly contribute to the systemic reassessment of Jewish Studies in the twenty-first century American Academy. -- Jay and Jeannie Schottenstein, American Post-Judaism: Identity and Renewal in a Postethnic Societyshow more

About Ken Koltun-Fromm

Ken Koltun-Fromm is professor of religion at Haverford College where he teaches courses in modern Jewish thought and material religion.show more

Table of contents

Table of Contents Introduction by Ken Koltun-Fromm Part I: About Culture Chapter One: Jewish Peoplehood and the Nationalist Paradigm in American Jewish Culture Noam Pianko Chapter Two: Otherness and Liberal Democratic Solidarity: Buber, Kaplan, Levinas And Rorty's Social Hope Akiba Lerner Chapter Three: Philip Rieff's "Jew of Culture" and the Ends of Higher Education in America Gregory Kaplan Chapter Four: Reading a Book like an Object: The Case of The Jewish Catalog Ari Y Kelman Part II: Art, Literature, Culture Chapter Five: Beyond the Chasm: Religion and Literature after the Holocaust Claire E. Sufrin Chapter Six: Celan's Holocaust: The Scene of Instruction for America Leonard Kaplan Chapter Seven: Aura and the "Spiritual in Art" in the Age of Digital Reproduction Zachary Braiterman Part III: Theology and Culture Chapter Eight: A Personal Partnership with God: Abraham Joshua Heschel's Pragmatic Theodicy Einat Ramon Chapter Nine: "An Ethic of Suffering": J.B. Soloveitchik as Pragmatist Jessica Rosenberg Chapter Ten: Intersubjectivity Meets Maternity: Buber, Levinas, and the Eclipsed Relation Mara H. Benjamin Chapter Eleven: Authenticity, Vision, Culture: Michael Wyschogrod's The Body of Faith Ken Koltun-Fromm Postscript: Thinking Jewish Culture in America Arnold Eisen About the Contributorsshow more

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