Jewish Primitivism (Stanford Studies in Jewish History and Culture) (Hardcover)

Jewish Primitivism (Stanford Studies in Jewish History and Culture) By Samuel J. Spinner Cover Image

Jewish Primitivism (Stanford Studies in Jewish History and Culture) (Hardcover)


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Around the beginning of the twentieth century, Jewish writers and artists across Europe began depicting fellow Jews as savages or "primitive" tribesmen. Primitivism--the European appreciation of and fascination with so-called "primitive," non-Western peoples who were also subjugated and denigrated--was a powerful artistic critique of the modern world and was adopted by Jewish writers and artists to explore the urgent questions surrounding their own identity and status in Europe as insiders and outsiders. Jewish primitivism found expression in a variety of forms in Yiddish, Hebrew, and German literature, photography, and graphic art, including in the work of figures such as Franz Kafka, Y.L. Peretz, S. An-sky, Uri Zvi Greenberg, Else Lasker-Sch ler, and Mo Ver.

In Jewish Primitivism, Samuel J. Spinner argues that these and other Jewish modernists developed a distinct primitivist aesthetic that, by locating the savage present within Europe, challenged the idea of the threatening savage other from outside Europe on which much primitivism relied: in Jewish primitivism, the savage is already there. This book offers a new assessment of modern Jewish art and literature and shows how Jewish primitivism troubles the boundary between observer and observed, cultured and "primitive," colonizer and colonized.

Samuel J. Spinner is Assistant Professor and holds the Zelda and Myer Tandetnik Professorship in Yiddish Language, Literature, and Culture at Johns Hopkins University.
Product Details ISBN: 9781503628274
ISBN-10: 1503628272
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Publication Date: July 27th, 2021
Pages: 272
Language: English
Series: Stanford Studies in Jewish History and Culture