Women's Poetry and Religion in Victorian England: Jewish Identity and Christian Culture

By Cynthia Scheinberg | Go to book overview

Notes

1 INTRODUCTION
1
For more on the related project of revealing the anti-Semitic impulses in Victorian prose, fiction, and non-fiction, see Cheyette, Constructions of “the Jew, ” and Ragussis, Figures of Conversion. I use all three terms – Judaic, Jewishness, and Hebraic – in this book; “Judaic” refers to specific aspects of Judaism (the religion); “Jewishness” is used more generally to refer to aspects of Jewish culture and identity, and “Hebraic” is used to refer to the textual traditions of the Hebrew language and Hebrew Bible.
2
See Jill Robbins' Introduction, “Figurations of the Judaic, ” in Prodigal Son/Elder Brother, for an excellent discussion of the ways Judaism and Jewishness are always inscribed in the discourse of Christianity. See also Langmuir, History, Religion, and Antisemitism, Part 3, “The Religious Roots of Antisemitism. ”
3
It has also asked me to reconsider some of the theories of those groundbreaking feminist critics whose work in feminist literary criticism has been directly responsible for my success in the academy. I do my critique of past work with full awareness of my own debt to the critics who came before me, confident that they will see my critique as part of the logical and healthy progression of feminist thought. With such an acknowledgment I hope to separate my analysis from the work of some who critique feminist critics without recognition of our mutual intellectual debts to each other.
4
Feminist literary scholarship of the last thirty years, as powerful as it has been in rewriting literary history and theory, necessarily reflects the values of the first generation of women to attain political success within the academy. This group of feminist literary scholars has, for the most part, been deeply troubled by the patriarchal claims of institutionalized religious traditions, and their critique has been both crucially important for feminist thought, and not always fully theorized. See note 5 below on Moody's theory regarding womanist scholars; see also Rubin-Dorsky and Fishkin, eds., People of the Book; many women scholars identify quite overtly their antipathy to religion as a reason they became academics. See also Susan Gubar's essay on her own feminism in relation to her Jewish identity in “Eating the Bread of Affliction. ”

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