Modernity, Culture, and 'the Jew'

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Bryan Cheyette, Laura Marcus
Stanford University Press, 1998 - History - 297 pages
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This book provides a rich and wide-ranging analysis of Jewish history and culture, relating them to theories of modernity and postmodernity and to recent debates on ethnicity and postcolonialism. The sixteen essays are divided into four parts, addressing psychoanalysis and gender, literary antisemitism, modernity/postmodernity and the Jew, and the memory of the Holocaust. A Foreword and Afterword place these concerns in an extended multicultural and postcolonial context.

What is at stake when Jewish history and culture are inserted into current feminist, gay and lesbian, postcolonial and postmodern revisions of modernity? Even the radical reconstruction of modernity has created a host of new orthodoxies which themselves need to be unsettled. Along with an amorphous political correctness, mainstream cultural studies has, routinely, written out the question of Jewishness, assuming it as part of a supposed Judeo-Christian tradition. On the other side of the barricades, however, those apologists for the efficacy of Western modernity have continued to banish Jewish difference from their brave new world in a desperate bid to signify the universality of the modern project.

The essays in this collection are written in the margins of these reductive oppositions. They recognize that the Jewish other is both at the heart of Western metropolitan culture and is also what must be excluded in order for dominant racial and sexual identities to be formed and maintained. There is a virtue in this ambivalent positioning, this center of the road, which characterizes Jewish history and culture both then and now.

 

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Contents

Some Methodological Anxieties
1
The NineteenthCentury German
23
Daniel Paul Schrebers Secret
40
Goyim Naches or Modernity and the Manliness of
63
Sex and Modernity
91
Svengali and the FindeSiecle
105
Premodern Modern Postmodern
143
Modernity as Reflection
157
Lyotard andthe Jews
188
ReFiguring the Jew in France
197
The Arts of Jewish Memory in a Postmodern Age
211
Racism and AntiRacism
226
Fascism and Representation
242
The Victims Resentments
257
The Ethical Uncertainty of Primo Levi
268
Not Being Inhuman
282

Was Modernity Good for the Jews?
171

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About the author (1998)

Bryan Cheyette is Reader in the School of English Drama at Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London. He is the editor of Between Race and Culture: Representations of 'the Jew' in English and American Literature (Stanford, 1996). Laura Marcus is Lecturer in Englisha and Humanities at Birkbeck College, University of London

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