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Turner, Julia (2005) READING SCARS: CIRCUMCISION AS TEXTUAL TROPE. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation presents readings across a series of disparate texts in which circumcision--as initiating Jewish rite or descendant metaphor--functions as an interpretive key. The mark of circumcision has served as the rhetorical ground upon which much negative stereotyping--especially anti-Judaic and/or anti-Semitic sentiment--has been fostered. The metaphor of circumcision, in seeming contrast, has designated an elect in both religious and secular modes of exegesis. Additionally, issues pertaining to sexuality and gender attend or subtend the representation of circumcision in any number of cultural or critical venues. Among the texts which serve to anchor discussion around these issues are portions of Genesis; anti-circumcision literature and documentary; George Eliot's Daniel Deronda; Joan Micklin Silver's Crossing Delancey; Agnieszka Holland's Europa, Europa; Peter Greenaway's Drowning By Numbers; and the opening chapter of Erich Auerbach's Mimesis. The polysemous character of this diacritical rite become sign determines in part the theoretical and critical writings called upon to illuminate the manner in which circumcision is and has been read. The primary informing bases are critical writings by Jewish historians and Hebrew scholars and psychoanalytic theory. The legacy of the rite of circumcision within the so-called Judeo-Christian history of Western art and literature speaks both to the tenacity of Judaism's particular embodied tradition and to the influence of Christianity's universal and disembodying rhetoric. This inmix ofrhetoric, rite, and religion clusters at the interpretive edge of circumcision and informs as well its variant tropes. Metaphorically speaking, this means the best reading position is one at or near the wound. Textually speaking, this means tending to those sites where literal ruptures, or reading wounds appear.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSmith, Philippsmith@pitt.eduPSMITH
Committee MemberFischer, Lucylfischer@pitt.eduLFISCHER
Committee MemberGoekjian,
Committee MemberSalvatori,
Date: 1 February 2005
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 10 December 2004
Approval Date: 1 February 2005
Submission Date: 7 December 2004
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Daniel Deronda; Shibboleth; wound as hermeneutic
Other ID:, etd-12072004-143410
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:08
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:53


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