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Nexus 1

Nexus 1: Essays in German Jewish Studies

William Collins Donahue
Martha B. Helfer
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Nexus 1
    Book Description:

    ‘Nexus’ is the official publication of the biennial German Jewish Studies Workshop at Duke University, the first ongoing forum in North America for German Jewish studies. It publishes innovative research in German Jewish Studies and serves as a venue for introducing new directions in the field, analyzing the development and definition of the field itself, and considering the place of German Jewish Studies within the disciplines of both German Studies and Jewish Studies. Additionally, it examines issues of pedagogy and programming at the undergraduate, graduate, and community levels. The contributions are organized in three sections according to their approach to German Jewish Studies: theoretical and philosophical, literary-historical, or approaches that focus on the Jew(s) in today's Germany. Contributors: Nicola Behrmann, Juliette Brungs, Katja Garloff, Sander L. Gilman, Jeffrey A. Grossman, Jennifer Hansen-Glucklich, Michael G. Levine, Elizabeth Loentz, Agnes C. Mueller, Todd Samuel Presner, Lisa Silverman, David Suchoff. William C. Donahue is Professor in German, in Jewish Studies, and in the Program in Literature at Duke University, where he is also a member of the Jewish Studies Executive Committee and Chair of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literature. Martha B. Helfer is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of German, Russian, and Eastern European Languages and Literatures and an affiliate member of the Department of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University.

    eISBN: 978-1-57113-760-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
    W. C. D. and M. B. H.
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)
    William Collins Donahue and Martha B. Helfer

    This biennial publication is a testament to the vitality of scholarship in the areas of German Jewish Studies. It began, however, as a mere hypothesis: we convened a group of scholars working on German Jewish topics and simply started a conversation. We had sensed that sessions at other major national conferences — such as those of the Modern Language Association, the German Studies Association, and the Association for Jewish Studies — were no longer sufficient to meet the growing needs of the field. But we frankly weren’t sure. We would have been content to see colleagues exchange scholarship on an...

  5. I. Theoretical Approaches to the Field

    • German-Jewish Studies in the Digital Age: Remarks on Discipline, Method, and Media
      (pp. 7-26)
      Todd Samuel Presner

      At the start of the twenty-first century, the editor of the Leo Baeck Institute Year Book invited the members of its advisory board to articulate their views on the future direction of research in the field of German-Jewish Studies. Many members, such as David Sorkin, posited the emergence of a new era of German-Jewish Studies, which for him was characterized by the end of “the émigré synthesis,” a period in which the intellectual agenda of the LBI was shaped by a generation of emigrants who “either had direct experience of German-Jewish life and culture prior to 1939 or else grew...

    • Beyond Antisemitism: A Critical Approach to German Jewish Cultural History
      (pp. 27-46)
      Lisa Silverman

      Jewish studies has much to learn from gender studies.¹ When Simone de Beauvoir challenged readers to rethink women’s position in society in Le Deuxième Sexe (1949, translated as The Second Sex, 1953),² she defined femininity in terms that reverberated for decades to come. Beauvoir posited that “femininity” was not a natural state, but rather a social construction according to which Man was the absolute subject — the representative of the human norm — and Woman his Other. According to the terms of this hierarchical structure, Woman’s status as Other is imposed by Man. Whether exhilarated or horrified, de Beauvoir’s readers...

    • Unrequited Love: On the Rhetoric of a Trope from Moritz Goldstein to Hannah Arendt
      (pp. 47-66)
      Katja Garloff

      In his 1966 essay “Juden und Deutsche” (Jews and Germans) Gershom Scholem sums up his influential critique of the idealized notion of a German Jewish dialogue: “Die Liebesaffäre der Juden mit den Deutschen blieb, aufs Große gesehen, einseitig, unerwidert” (By and large, then, the love affair of the Jews and the Germans remained one-sided and unreciprocated).¹ Although Scholem rejects the often-professed Jewish “love” for things German both as a historical experience and as a model for the future, his own text evinces just how powerful this model is. Other scholars have found the trope of the German Jewish love affair...

    • Happiness and Unhappiness as a “Jewish Question”
      (pp. 67-82)
      Sander L. Gilman

      Happiness is a “peculiarly modern, Western idea,” as Richard Sennett has observed.¹ Actually happiness is multiple, conflicting ideas — often changing from context to context with each change presaging a cascade of different meanings and interpretations. In this essay I shall try to link a number of them in a manner that is not causal but I hope rather evocative. I want to begin with a specific “Jewish” turn in the history of the concept of happiness at the close of the nineteenth century (one that turns out not to be very “Jewish” in its origin) and conclude with some...

  6. II. Literary and Literary-Historical Studies

    • Auerbach, Heine and the Question of Bildung in German and German Jewish Culture
      (pp. 85-108)
      Jeffrey A. Grossman

      The mid to late 1980s witnessed a powerful challenge to more traditional approaches to the study of Jews in Germany. Until that time such studies were dominated by two models, one of which tended to dwell apologetically on the Jewish contribution to modern German history while the other stressed alternatively the process of Jewish integration, assimilation, and emancipation into German society.¹ In 1985, however, George Mosse published a collection of lectures titled German Jews Beyond Judaism which argued that, as they departed from traditional Jewish life, German Jews replaced religious practice with Bildung as the central principle around which they...

    • The Literary Double Life of Clementine Krämer: German-Jewish Activist and Bavarian “Heimat” and Dialect Writer
      (pp. 109-136)
      Elizabeth Loentz

      Despite the efforts of her nephew, sociologist Werner J. Cahnmann, who preserved her literary estate and published a short biography in 1964, Clementine Krämer (1873–1942) is now virtually unknown. During her lifetime, however, she was well known in Jewish, feminist, and pacifist circles as co-founder of the Israelitische Jugendhilfe (Israelite Youth Aid) in Munich, a member of the national executive board of the Jüdischer Frauenbund (League of Jewish Women) and founder and chairperson of its Munich branch, co-founder and chairperson of the Munich branch of the Deutscher Verband für Frauenstimmrecht (German Union for Female Suffrage), and the Frauenbund liason...

    • Franz Kafka, Hebrew Writer: The Vaudeville of Linguistic Origins
      (pp. 137-152)
      David Suchoff

      In 1923, Franz Kafka wrote a fluent letter in Hebrew to Puah Ben-Tovim, his Hebrew teacher from Palestine who had been born in Jerusalem, a letter in which the transnational traces of the modern Hebrew renaissance are inscribed. Ben-Tovim had grown up in the same Jerusalem neighborhood as Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the “father of modern Hebrew,” giving Kafka a kind of direct line to the rebirth of modern Hebrew, and to a hidden comedy in the formation of the new national language as well. As a flagship for the national project, Ben-Yehuda’s newspaper and his allied dictionary aimed to create “as ...

    • Words at War: Hugo Ball and Walter Benjamin on Language and History
      (pp. 153-170)
      Nicola Behrmann

      Biographically speaking, the encounter between Hugo Ball, “founder” of the Dada movement, and Walter Benjamin, “theoretician” of modernity, can be summarized in a few words: in March 1919 they were neighbors in Bern. Ball had already ended his engagement with the Dada movement in Zurich and worked as a regular contributor to, and editor of, Die Freie Zeitung, one of the most influential political magazines in Switzerland, where he published a series of articles on German national politics. Benjamin had turned away from any political activities he had been involved in when participating in the German Youth Movement and had...

    • The Inability to Love? Jews and Germans in Works by Günter Grass and Martin Walser
      (pp. 171-186)
      Agnes C. Mueller

      “The inability to love” is an allusion to Alexander and Margarete Mitscherlich’s groundbreaking study of 1967, Die Unfähigkeit zu trauern (English, 1975, The Inability to Mourn).¹ The Mitscherlichs’ innovative psychoanalytical approach to explaining German attitudes and behavior after the Second World War is still significant to understanding how and why transferred trauma affects contemporary Germans despite ongoing public Holocaust memorial culture. According to the Mitscherlichs, the Germans’ over-identification with Adolf Hitler and enthusiastic support of National Socialism resulted, after the fall of the Third Reich, in an intense defense against guilt, shame, and anxiety, which in turn led to the...

  7. III. Public Culture:: Memorial, Performance, and Post-Holocaust Retrospectives

    • Written into the Body: Introducing the Performance Video Art of Tanya Ury
      (pp. 189-204)
      Juliette Brungs

      This essay introduces the performance art of Tanya Ury, a British artist born to German Jewish immigrants in the UK, who moved to Cologne, Germany in the early nineties. During the search for her family’s roots, Ury developed an artistic analysis of the Shoah’s aftermath and began to promote a distinctively Jewish language of remembrance. I will present examples of Ury’s work and discuss how the historical situation in Germany made the work of Jewish artists more difficult, slowed their progress, and forced artists into a discourse about Germanness and Jewishness, differences in perspective, remembrance, and about aftermaths of the...

    • Disfigured Memory: The Reshaping of Holocaust Symbols in Yad Vashem and the Jewish Museum in Berlin
      (pp. 205-226)
      Jennifer Hansen-Glucklich

      Walking through the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the new Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the visitor may be struck by the aesthetic innovation of video installations and displays that often rely on postmodern aesthetics and suggest new, creative ways of remembering. Contemporary Holocaust exhibits present a unique challenge to museum planners: they are called upon to tell the story of the Holocaust in accessible and engaging terms while preserving a sense of the sanctity that the Holocaust has acquired in contemporary memory culture. Given both the emotional power of the Holocaust as a subject for representation and also the danger...

    • Beyond Victim and Perpetrator: New Subject Positions in Recent German-Jewish Film
      (pp. 227-246)
      Michael G. Levine

      Is there a language still to be made, a language that will link the children of Holocaust victims and those of the perpetrators? This is the question around which a number of recent works by Israeli and German filmmakers turn. Circling around such a delicate question, the films tend to move indirectly about it, touching lightly and obliquely upon it. Yet, the films seem also to spiral ineluctably toward this question, addressing it only at their very limits in their clumsily tacked-on endings and patently forced moments of resolution. Such moments of closure no doubt concede in their strained, contrived...

  8. Back Matter
    (pp. 247-247)