6 2013

Katie & Irwin Kahn Jewish Community Center: Guest Speaker Benjamin Schreier

7:00PM - 8:00PM  

Katie & Irwin Kahn Jewish Community Cetner 306 Flora Drive
Columbia, SC 29224
803-787-2023 lauries@jcccolumbia.org

Contact Laurie Slack

Benjamin Schreier Malvin and Lea Bank Assistant Professor of English and Jewish Studies Penn State University The Jewish American Novel and the Creation of Jewish Americans The dirty secret about Jewish American literature is that there is in fact little consensus about the definition of Jewish American literature. Do we mean novels both by and about American Jews, or is one of these criteria sufficient? For that matter, how is “American Jew” defined? To argue simply that American Jews write Jewish American literature is to ignore the problem of Jewish American identity, and very likely in addition to tread on unsavory racialist ground. But without such a racial concept of identity the category of Jewish American literature often appears incoherent. If discussing the history of the Jewish American novel is impossible without engaging powerful assumptions—including, notably, that it is also a history of the Jews—then by highlighting the tradition’s leading figures and major themes, it is possible to tackle this problem head-on, examining Jewish American literature as a machine for the production of Jewish Americans.