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German-Jewish Popular Culture before the Holocaust

Kafka's kitsch

By David A. Brenner

Routledge – 2009 – 128 pages

Series: Routledge Jewish Studies Series

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    March 27th 2014
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Description

David A. Brenner examines how Jews in Central Europe developed one of the first "ethnic" or "minority" cultures in modernity. Not exclusively "German" or "Jewish," the experiences of German-speaking Jewry in the decades prior to the Third Reich and the Holocaust were also negotiated in encounters with popular culture, particularly the novel, the drama and mass media.

Despite recent scholarship, the misconception persists that Jewish Germans were bent on assimilation. Although subject to compulsion, they did not become solely "German," much less "European." Yet their behavior and values were by no means exclusively "Jewish," as the Nazis or other anti-Semites would have it. Rather, the German Jews achieved a peculiar synthesis between 1890 and 1933, developing a culture that was not only "middle-class" but also "ethnic." In particular, they reinvented Judaic traditions by way of a hybridized culture.

Based on research in German, Israeli and American archives, German-Jewish Popular Culture before the Holocaust addresses many of the genres in which a specifically German-Jewish identity was performed, from the Yiddish theatre and Zionist humour all the way to sensationalist memoirs and Kafka’s own kitsch. This middle-class ethnic identity encompassed and went beyond religious confession and identity politics. In focusing principally on German-Jewish popular culture, this groundbreaking book introduces the beginnings of "ethnicity" as we know it and live it today.

Contents

Introduction: Identifying (with) German-Jewish Popular Culture 1. Between High and Low, Laughter and Tears: Making Yiddish Theater "Respectable" in Turn-of-the-Century Jewish Berlin 2. "Schlemiel, Shlimazel": A Proto-Postcolonialist Satire of "Jews," "Blacks," and "Germans" 3. A German-Jewish Hermaphrodite—Or: What Sexology Contributed to B’nai B’rith 4. Franz's Folk(lore): Kafka’s Jewish Father-Complex 5. Pogrom in - Berlin? Working Through the Weimar Jewish Experience in Popular Fiction 6. After the "Schoah": Performing German-Jewish Symbiosis Today

Author Bio

David A. Brenner is Director of the Houston Teachers Institute and Visiting Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Houston.

Name: German-Jewish Popular Culture before the Holocaust: Kafka's kitsch (Hardback)Routledge 
Description: By David A. Brenner. David A. Brenner examines how Jews in Central Europe developed one of the first "ethnic" or "minority" cultures in modernity. Not exclusively "German" or "Jewish," the experiences of German-speaking Jewry in the...
Categories: European History, Drama, Cultural Studies, 20th Century Literature, European Studies, Jewish Studies, Middle East Studies