Academic journal article German Quarterly

German Literature, Jewish Critics: The Brandeis Sympoium

Academic journal article German Quarterly

German Literature, Jewish Critics: The Brandeis Sympoium

Article excerpt

Dowden, Stephen S. and Meike G. Werner, eds. German Literature, Jewish Critics: The Brandeis Sympoium. Rochester: Camden House, 2002. 321 pp. $90.00 hardcover.

This volume, which grew out of an international conference held at Brandeis University in 1997, represents an important contribution to the growing field of German-Jewish literary and cultural studies. Dedicated to exploring the diverse ways Jewish critics from Ludwig Geiger to Marcel Reich-Ranicki have shaped approaches to German literature both within and outside the academy, German Literature, Jewish Critics opens up crucial windows into the institutional history of German Studies. The volume itself brings together some of the most distinguished contemporary critics of German literature and German-Jewish culture, with essays by Hinrich Seeba, Egon Schwarz, Christoph Konig, Amir Eschel, Barbara Hahn, Gesa Dane, Willi Goetschel, Thomas Sparr, Walter Sokel, Marc Weiner, Ritchie Robertson, David Suchoff and Peter Demetz, as well as numerous comments by panelists and other participants in the symposium. The editors have succeeded in producing a book that retains the dynamic level of discussion of the original conference yet that also reads like a book-and not simply yet another set of published conference proceedings. With readable essays of the highest quality and thirty illustrations of prominent German-Jewish literary critics, this volume is destined to be a focal point in all future discussions about the distinct ways Jewish critics have shaped the practice of Germanistik in North America and elsewhere.

The goal of the volume, as the editors explain in their preface, is not to generalize about how Jewish critics have responded to German literature. The volume seeks, instead, to explore the difficult and multifaceted relationship between the institutions of German literature and individual Jews who found themselves in the position, in Moritz Goldstein's famous words of 1912, of "administering the spiritual property of a nation" which often denied their "right and ability to do so." Starting with Heinrich Seeba's contribution, accordingly, much of the volume is dedicated to exploring the ways exiles from Hitler's Germany left their mark on institutions of Germanistik in the United States and elsewhere. …

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