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Modernity and Crisis: The Writing of 'the Jew' in Twentieth Century Trans Atlantic Literature

Bensadon, Deborah Anne (2012) Modernity and Crisis: The Writing of 'the Jew' in Twentieth Century Trans Atlantic Literature. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The western imaginary often associates modernity with the Enlightenment period of the eighteenth century because of its emphasis on the separation of church and state. The efforts to secularize the nations in the name of social progress resulted in a movement that institutionalized the exclusion of marginalized communities. In essence, in its objective to absorb the other into the same, the Enlightenment period perpetuated the very model it attempted to break. Representations of ‘the Jew’ that had been present in cultural productions as well as socio political discussions as far back as medieval times, evolved to adhere to modern preoccupations of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As a result, as nations grappled with communities that were marginal from within, the figure of ‘the Jew’ and the “Jewish question” emerged in discourses, intertwining the figure of ‘the Jew’ with modernity in Europe. This study examines how the images and associations that were written to identify ‘the Jew’ and establish difference had already traveled across the Atlantic to the Americas as far back as the fifteenth century and emerged in cultural productions throughout Latin American texts, establishing a relationship between modernity and ‘the Jew’ long before the Enlightenment period in Europe. Through textual analyses of narratives from Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Spain that were all published as of the second half of the twentieth century, this study examines the narrative function of ‘the Jew’ as a vehicle to address national issues of modernity, identity, national history and crisis. The chapters address traditional representations of the “Jewish body” and demeanor in order to examine the way in which recent texts write this figure in modern narratives. The study considers ‘the Jew’ as a “spectral operator” in these narratives, for they revisit historical contexts such as the Inquisition and the white slave trade of the nineteenth century in order to problematize long held notions of ‘the Jew’ and the representations of “Jewishness” in the Latin American scape.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Bensadon, Deborah Annedab74@pitt.eduDAB74
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairDuchesne-Winter, DUCHESNE
Committee CoChairGraff-Zivin,
Committee MemberBranche, Jerome branche@pitt.eduBRANCHE
Committee MemberChamberlain, Bobbychambln@pitt.eduCHAMBLN
Committee MemberAndrade, Susansza@pitt.eduSZA
Date: 9 October 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 26 April 2011
Approval Date: 9 October 2012
Submission Date: 15 August 2012
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 184
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Hispanic Languages and Literatures
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Jewish, Latin American, Literature, Modernity, Spectral, Jewish Body, la polaca, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Argentina,
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2012 14:52
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:02


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