Enlarging America: The Cultural Work of Jewish Literary Scholars, 1930-1990

Synopsis

In this groundbreaking study, the author examines the gradual opening of literary academe to Jewish faculty and analyzes the critical work Jewish scholars undertook to achieve their integration into an exclusive WASP domain.

Beginning her story at Harvard University, Klingenstein describes the unique intellectual paths taken by scholars such as Harry Levin, Daniel Aaron, M. H. Abrams, Leo Marx, and Sacvan Bercovitch. At Columbia University, Klingenstein argues that the singular Jewish presence of Lionel Trilling shaped the minds and inspired the careers of Jewish intellectuals as different as Cynthia Ozick, Norman Podhoretz, Steven Marcus, and Carolyn Heilbrun.

Once Jewish scholars had attained a strong foothold in literary academe, pioneering spirits such as Robert Alter and Ruth R. Wisse turned their attention from English and American to Jewish literature in Hebrew and Yiddish.

Written as an interconnected series of twelve lucid and compelling portraits of major figures in the history ofAmerican literary criticism, this book illuminates the element of serendipity in culture-formation and exposes the social and intellectual forces at work in cultural change.