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The Impossible JewIdentity and the Reconstruction of Jewish American Literary History$
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Benjamin Schreier

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781479868681

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479868681.001.0001

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The Negative Desire of Jewish Representation; or, Why Were the New York Intellectuals Jewish?

The Negative Desire of Jewish Representation; or, Why Were the New York Intellectuals Jewish?

Chapter:
(p.95) 3 The Negative Desire of Jewish Representation; or, Why Were the New York Intellectuals Jewish?
Source:
The Impossible Jew
Author(s):

Benjamin Schreier

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479868681.003.0004

This chapter presents a critical analysis of the New York intellectuals within the context of Jewish identity, and particularly the legibility and affectivity of Jewish identity, in order to disengage the political problematic of literary criticism from biologistic nationalism. It examines how the texts of Lionel Trilling and his fellow recognizably Jewish New York intellectuals parody the interpretive compulsion to recognize or identify them as Jewish. It also considers the link between Jewish New York intellectuals and the history of Jewish American literature, along with a racialist-nationalist biographical project that interprets the emergence of Zionist neoconservatism from the belly of the New York intellectuals as a natural or inevitable emergence overseen by a concept of responsibility to Jewish polity. Finally, the chapter shows how a biologistic interpretive framework displaces the possibility of critical interrogation of the ways in which Jewishness becomes legible.

Keywords:   literary criticism, New York intellectuals, Jewish identity, biologistic nationalism, Lionel Trilling, Jewish American literature, neoconservatism, Jewish polity, Jewishness

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