Expression, Identity and Representation

Jewish Cultural Studies, 1


April 24th, 2008



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The Jewish Cultural Studies series offers a contemporary view of Jewish culture around the globe. Multidisciplinary, multi-focused, and eclectic, it covers the cultural practices of secular Jews as well as of religious Jews of all persuasions, and from historical as well as contemporary perspectives. It also considers the range of institutions that represent and respond to Jewishness, including museums, the media, synagogues, and schools. More than a series on Jewish ideas, it uncovers ideas of being Jewish. This volume proposes that the idea of 'Jewish', or what people think of as 'Jewishness', is revealed in expressions of culture and applied in constructions of identity and representation. In Part I, 'Expression', Elly Teman considers how the kabbalistic red string found at sites throughout Israel conveys a political and psychological response to terrorism. Sergey Kravtsov examines Jewish and non-Jewish narratives concerning a synagogue in eastern Europe. Miriam Isaacs looks at expressions of cultural continuity in DP camps in the aftermath of the Holocaust, and Jascha Nemtsov discusses how Jewish folk music was presented as high art in early twentieth-century Germany. In Part II, 'Identity', Joachim Schlor enquires how the objects taken by emigrants leaving Germany for Palestine after Hitler's rise to power represented their identities. Hanna Kliger, Bea Hollander-Goldfein, and Emilie Passow examine how survivors' narratives become integrated into family identities. Olga Gershenson offers close readings of how the identities of Jews as enacted in post-perestroika films highlight conflicting Russian attitudes towards Jews. Ted Merwin considers commercial establishments as 'sacred spaces' for Jewish secular identities. Part III, 'Representation', opens with stories collected in Israel by Ilana Rosen from Jews who lived in Carpatho-Russia, while Judith Lewin considers the characterization of the Jewish woman in French literature. Holly Pearse and Mikel Koven, respectively, decode the Jewishness of modern radio comedy and Hollywood film. The idea of Jewishness is applied in the volume with provocative interpretations of Jewish experience, and fresh approaches to the understanding of Jewish cultural expressions. CONTRIBUTORS Simon J. Bronner, Olga Gershenson, Bea Hollander-Goldfein, Miriam Isaacs, Hannah Kliger, Mikel J. Koven, Sergey R. Kravtsov, Judith Lewin, Ted Merwin, Jascha Nemtsov, Emilie S. Passow, Holly A. Pearse, Ilana Rosen, Joachim Schlor, Elly Teman

'These essays often get to the heart of how Jewish cultural identity is still constructed today by Jews-religious and secular-and by non-Jews ... Recommended.' S. Ward, Choice

Author Information

Simon J. Bronner is Distinguished Professor of American Studies and Folklore and Founding Director of the Center for Holocaust and Jewish Studies at the Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg. He is also the convener of the Jewish Folklore and Ethnology Section of the American Folklore Society. His books include Folklore: The Basics (2017) and Explaining Traditions: Folk Behavior in Modern Culture (2011).