Orthodox by Design: Judaism, Print Politics, and the Artscroll Revolution

Orthodox by Design: Judaism, Print Politics, and the Artscroll Revolution

Orthodox by Design: Judaism, Print Politics, and the Artscroll Revolution

Orthodox by Design: Judaism, Print Politics, and the Artscroll Revolution

Synopsis

Orthodox by Design, a groundbreaking exploration of religion and media, examines ArtScroll, the world's largest Orthodox Jewish publishing house, purveyor of handsomely designed editions of sacred texts and a major cultural force in contemporary Jewish public life. In the first in-depth study of the ArtScroll revolution, Jeremy Stolow traces the ubiquity of ArtScroll books in local retail markets, synagogues, libraries, and the lives of ordinary users. Synthesizing field research conducted in three local Jewish scenes where ArtScroll books have had an impact--Toronto, London, and New York--along with close readings of key ArtScroll texts, promotional materials, and the Jewish blogosphere, he shows how the use of these books reflects a broader cultural shift in the authority and public influence of Orthodox Judaism. Playing with the concept of design, Stolow's study also outlines a fresh theoretical approach to print culture and illuminates how evolving technologies, material forms, and styles of mediated communication contribute to new patterns of religious identification, practice, and power.

Finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in the scholarship category, Jewish Book Council

Excerpt

Do you wish you could pray in Hebrew and understand what you are
saying as you are saying it? Now you can, with ArtScroll’s Schottenstein
Edition Interlinear Series
. It’s easy to pray with meaning in Hebrew
with the new interlinear format developed by ArtScroll to give you
maximum comprehension with minimum effort.

ArtScroll Complete Catalogue (2006)

Artscroll is a publisher known throughout the English-speaking Jewish world as a purveyor of handsomely designed, accessible, and uncompromisingly Orthodox print commodities, including bilingual prayer books and Bibles, rabbinic commentaries, legal manuals, historical works, novels, self-help books, and curricular material for Jewish education. the advertisement quoted above announces a new edition of ArtScroll’s highly popular Siddur, a liturgical text that in its various formats has sold roughly one million copies, making it arguably the most successful Jewish prayer book in the history of publishing. Since its founding in 1976, ArtScroll has enjoyed a stellar career, in many ways parallel to a broader cultural shift that has seen an increasingly confident and unapologetic form of Orthodoxy assume a central position on the Jewish public stage. Defined by some as “Jewish fundamentalism” or “ultra-Orthodoxy” but better referred to as Haredism, this movement promotes stringent interpretations of Jewish law, intensive study of Jewish texts, and submission to the authority of a narrowly defined rabbinic elite. the expanding influence and visibility of Haredism in such varied domains as education, philosophy, law, entertainment, and politics point to one of the most pervasive struggles for legitimacy and authority within contemporary Jewish public life, its sources of knowledge and imagination, its bonds of affect, and its markets. the enthusiastic reception of ArtScroll books among diverse constituencies . . .

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