Re-envisioning Jewish Identities

Reflections on Contemporary Culture in Israel and the Diaspora

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This innovative study shows how the imaginary constructions of self and Other are shaping identification with Jewishness in the twenty-first century. The texts and artworks discussed in this book test a diverse range of ways of identifying as Jews and with the Jewish people, while engaging with postmodern and postcolonial discourses of hybridity and multiculturalism.

This book selects six key areas in which the boundaries of Jewish identities have been interrogated and renegotiated: nation, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, and the Holocaust. In each of these areas Sicher explores how major and emerging contemporary writers and artists re-envision the meaning of their identities. Such re-envisioning may be literally visual or metaphorical in the search for expression of artistic self between the conventional paradigms of the past and new ways of thinking.

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Efraim Sicher is full professor of English and comparative literature at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. He has published widely on modern Jewish culture. His most recent book is The Jew’s Daughter: A Cultural History of a Conversion Narrative (2017).
Acknowledgments
List of Figures

Introduction

1 Children of Partition: Inception of the Nation and Birth of the Hero
 1.1 Birth of the Nation: India/Israel
 1.2 Homing in and Out of Home
 1.3 The Rupture of History: Blood Rituals
 1.4 Parturition as Partition

2 Sephardism: Alternate Histories of the Americas
 2.1 Romancing Sepharad
 2.2 Sepharad in India
 2.3 Postcolonial Sepharad
 2.4 Crypto-Sephardism: Revealing in Order to Conceal
 2.5 Sephardism in Blue: Finding Home in Multicultural Transnationalism

3 Bad Jews and New Men: Re-envisioning Masculinity
 3.1 Bad Jews on the Rampage
 3.2 Bad Jews on the Stage
 3.3 Quiet! Loud Jews: Two Thousand Years
 3.4 The J-Word
 3.5 The Wicked Son
 3.6 New Masculinities

4 Written on the Body: Re-envisioning Judaism in Contemporary Jewish Feminist Art
 4.1 From Rubies to Rebels
 4.2 Gendering the Jewish Female Body
 4.3 Performing the Body
 4.4 Jewish Vaginal Art
 4.5 Re-envisioning the Text
 4.6 Total Immersion: Mikveh Art
 4.7 Signs on the Body
 4.8 Writing (on) the Body
 4.9 Erotic and/or Religious?
 4.10 The Advent of the New Jewess

5 Jewish “Bad Girls”: Rebellious Daughters in Contemporary British Jewish Women’s Fiction and Film
 5.1 Rebellious Bodies
 5.2 Bad (Jewish) Girls
 5.3 Naomi Alderman’s Disobedience
 5.4 Charlotte Mendelson, When We Were Bad and Daughters of Jerusalem
 5.5 Almost English, or How to Love in Hungarian
 5.6 Jane Eyre Walks out of Shul: The Governess
 5.7 Coming Out Jewish and Female

6 The “Daughter of Germany”: Desire and Power Relations in the Jewish Imaginary after Auschwitz
 6.1 Inge: Daughter of Germany
 6.2 Teutonia: “Negative Symbiosis”
 6.3 Cristiane: Exorcising Auschwitz
 6.4 Ilsa: Fetishizing Nazism
 6.5 Suzanna: The Double
 6.6 Tessa: The “Bad German”
 6.7 Epilogue in Berlin: Entangled Histories

Afterword: Instead of a Conclusion
Bibliography
Index
Anyone interested in contemporary Jewish identities and culture; specialists and students at all levels of cultural studies and comparative literature, American and Hebrew literature, Jewish studies, and contemporary art.
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