Intellectual developments and highlights

Authored by: Alan Levenson

The Routledge Companion to Jewish History and Historiography

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138193611
eBook ISBN: 9780429458927
Adobe ISBN:


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Although there can be no satisfactory definition of either “Modernity” or “Jewish,” the reader has a right to know what principles of inclusion and exclusion the author employs, or, to put it without scholarly jargon, what will be dealt with and what ignored. Given the scope of the task, I have opted for a limited definition. For example, a good case could be made for modern Jewish literature generally, and certain authors in particular (e.g., Heinrich Heine, Jakob Wasserman, the brothers Singer, Cynthia Ozick, Philip Roth, A. B. Yehoshua, Shulamit Hareven), for having explored the Jewish condition with insight. Another case could be made for pioneering scholars in various humanistic and social scientific fields (e.g., Emil Durkheim, Claude Levi-Strauss, Sigmund Freud), who also used their Jewish heritage as a springboard for commentary on the world at large. More difficult to classify as Jewish intellectual developments are those in the sciences, yet the disproportionate role of Jews in these fields cannot be gainsaid. Finally, even for creations in the musical and plastic arts, traces of Jewishness can and have been located—in the case of Marc Chagall, this is rather obvious; in the case of Mark Rothko, less so (see Chapter 23). Mass phenomena such as the modern Jewish press could also be considered as intellectual developments; these too will be excluded.

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