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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 School of Criticism I Wouldn’t Be Caught Dead In: A Polemic on Theorizing the Field

(p.1) Introduction
The Impossible Jew

Benjamin Schreier

NYU Press

This book explores how Jewish American literary study has alienated itself—in the form of insiderism, trivialization, and ghettoization—compared to American studies and ethnic American literary formations. It examines the lines of relation and mutuality between Jewish American literary study and those institutional establishments from which it persists in isolation, such as American studies, multicultural and multiethnic studies, critical theory, and Jewish studies. It also considers the Jewishness that anchors the field of Jewish American literature specifically and Jewish studies more generally, along with multiple and often discontinuous histories and agents accounting for the field's ghettoization. The book employs a literary critical concept of Jewishness to reveal the history, meaning, and power of Jewish identity and articulates a concept of particularity for the study of identity that is neither positivistically opposed to some ontological concept of universality nor grounded in what is inevitably nationalized and biologized ethnic self-evidence.

Keywords:   insiderism, trivialization, ghettoization, Jewish American literary study, Jewishness, Jewish American literature, Jewish studies, Jewish identity

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