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People of the Book: Thirty Scholars Reflect on Their Jewish Identity

Jeffrey Rubin-Dorsky
University of Wisconsin Press


A Mark Twain scholar. An African American philosopher. A lesbian feminist literary critic. A Cuban-American anthropologist. A German immigrant to the United States. A professor of English at a Jesuit university. All share their reflections on the interconnectedness of identities and ideas in People of the Book, the first book in which Jewish-American scholars examine how their Jewishness has shaped and influenced their intellectual endeavors, and how their intellectual work has deepened their sense of themselves as Jews.

The contributors are highly productive and respected Jewish American scholars, critics, and teachers from departments of English, history, American studies, Romance literature, Slavic studies, art, women's studies, comparative literature, anthropology, Judaic studies, and philosophy. Nearly an equal mix of men and women, the authors of these analytical and autobiographical essays include white Jews and black Jews; orthodox, conservative, reform, and totally secular Jews; Jews by birth and Jews by conversion; past presidents of the Modern Language Association and American Studies Association and young scholars at the start of their careers.

"What is fresh and exhilarating about this volume is the articulation of a wide array of very personal views on Jewish identity that are thoughtful, interesting, often moving and inspiring. Most interestingly, they emanate from scholars in secular fields who are uninterested in pleading a cause, staking a claim, organizing a movement, or promoting an agenda, yet whose emotional ties to Jewish peoplehood, values, and ideals are pronounced and eminently worth discovering."—Rabbi Stanley M. Wagner, Center for Judaic Studies, University of Denver

About the Author

Shelley Fisher Fishkin

Shelley Fisher Fishkin's broad, interdisciplinary research interests have led her to focus on topics including the ways in which American writers' apprenticeships in journalism shaped their poetry and fiction; the influence of African American voices on canonical American literature; the need to desegregate American literary studies; American theatre history; the development of feminist criticism; the relationship between public history and literary history; literature and animal welfare; the role  literature can play in the fight against racism; the place of humor and satire in movements for social justice; digital humanities; and the challenge of doing transnational American Studies....