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Jews in the American Academy, 1900-1940: The Dynamics of Intellectual Assimilation
     

Jews in the American Academy, 1900-1940: The Dynamics of Intellectual Assimilation

by Susanne Klingenstein
 

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Susanne Klingenstein's influential work reveals two important subjects: how the philosophy and literature departments of Ivy League colleges in the early twentieth century gradually opened their doors to Jewish men of letters; and how this integration transformed the thinking of these Jewish professors, many of whom had been raised in Orthodox homes.

Klingenstein

Overview

Susanne Klingenstein's influential work reveals two important subjects: how the philosophy and literature departments of Ivy League colleges in the early twentieth century gradually opened their doors to Jewish men of letters; and how this integration transformed the thinking of these Jewish professors, many of whom had been raised in Orthodox homes.

Klingenstein examines in depth the careers and works of prominent Jewish-American teachers, from Leo Wiener, the Harvard professor with thirty languages at his command, to philosophy professors Harry Wolfson, Horace Kallen, and Morris Cohen, Joel Elias Spingarn, writer-critic Ludwig Lewisohn, and finally Lionel Trilling, who won the hard-fought battle in 1936 to become the first Jewish professor of English and American literature at Columbia University.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
How Jewish scholars gradually won acceptance in the American academy is the theme of this lively composite portrait, originally a doctoral dissertation. Rebellious, ``language-crazed'' Leo Wiener (1862-1939), a Russian-born polyglot, ``stuck out like a sore thumb'' in Harvard's WASP community. Other Jewish academics remodeled themselves in the majority's image, feeling deeply alienated from their roots and from their parents. Morris Cohen (1880-1947), the ``Jewish Socrates'' of CCNY, as a self-proclaimed secularist embraced Enlightenment rationalism and denounced Zionism as ``tribalism,'' but by 1939 had become much more sympathetic toward the Zionist cause and Judaism in general. Never completely assimilated, ``young Lion'' Lionel Trilling (1905-1977), interpreter of literature as a medium of moral concern, served as role model to a generation of Columbia students. Focusing on a dozen or so male scholars, the author, a lecturer at Harvard, shows how academia molded these men even as they broke down its exclusionist barriers. Photos. (Nov.)
Booknews
Tracing the hardwon appointments of Jews as professors at Ivy League bastions of Anglo-Saxon culture, Klingenstein (writing and humanistic studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology) depicts the careers and impact of intellectual mainstreaming on several men of letters from philologist Leo Weiner at turn-of-the-century Harvard to Lionel Trilling, Columbia's first Jewish professor of English and American literature in 1939. Includes several photos. Originally published in 1991 by Yale U. Press from her doctoral dissertation (U. of Heidelberg, 1990). A sequel is planned. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780815605416
Publisher:
Syracuse University Press
Publication date:
09/28/1998
Series:
Judaic Traditions in Literature, Music and Art Ser.
Edition description:
1ST SYRACU
Pages:
248
Product dimensions:
6.08(w) x 9.03(h) x 0.63(d)

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Cynthia Ozick
Jews in the American Academy is intellectual history founded on singular figures, and reads like chapters of a compelling novel by a master psychologist.

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