Modernism without Jews?

Modernism without Jews?

German-Jewish Subjects and Histories
Scott Spector
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 09/25/2017
Format: Paperback 6 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-02953-9
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Nowhere else have Jews contributed so massively and consequentially to the general culture than in Germany. From Mendelssohn to Marx, from Freud to Einstein, Jewish contributions to secular German thought have been both wide-ranging in scope and profound in their impact. But how are these intellectual innovations contributions to European Jewish culture? How are they to be defined as Jewish? Scott Spector argues for a return to the actual subjects of German-Jewish history as a way to understand them and their worlds. By engaging deeply with the individual as well as with the literary or philosophical character of the text, Spector offers a fresh view of the presumed contradictions, uncertainties, and paradoxes that underlie the project of Jewish participation in culture. Spector forges a new definition of what modernist creativity means in our understanding of German-Jewish culture.

Author Bio

Scott Spector is Professor of History and Germanic Languages and Literature at the University of Michigan. He is author of Prague Territories: National Conflict and Cultural Innovation in Franz Kafka's Fin de Siècle.


“Scott Spector has been advocating for a subject-based understanding of German-Jewish modernity throughout his distinguished career. This book brings this work together and culminates in a new and compelling approach to this much-studied topic.”
 — Todd Herzog, author of Crime Stories: Criminalistic Fantasy and the Culture of Crisis in Weimar Germany

“The essays in this collection are virtuoso performances demonstrating how Scott Spector's radical textual method could be applied to a range of controversial intellectuals. There is, of course, a vast body of interpretation surrounding these figures, and it is a credit to Spector's erudition, originality and synthetic abilities that he nevertheless has something new to say about them.”
 — Mary Gluck, author of Popular Bohemia: Modernism and Urban Culture in Nineteenth-Century Paris

“Highly recommended.”
 — Choice

“Spector’s book is required reading for all students of modernism and the German-Jewish contribution to this fraught moment in European history.”
 — Reading Religion

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Table of Contents

Preface: Historicizing German-Jewish Subjectivity
1. Forget Assimilation: Subjectivity and German-Jewish History
2. Modernism Without Jews: A Counter-Historical Argument
3. The Secularization Question: Germans, Jews, and the Historical Understanding of Modernity
4. Edith Stein's Passing Gestures: Intimate Histories, Empathic Portraits
5. Two Vultures: Freud Between "Jewish Science" and Humanism
6. Elsewhere in Austria: Jewish Writing between "Habsburg Myth" and "Central Europe Effect"
7. Max Brod’s Homelands, Kafka’s Patrimony
8. Kafka and Literary Modernism
9. The Law of the Letter: Kafka’s Correspondence with Milena Jesenská

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