CALL FOR PAPERS
Special Issue of Studies in American Jewish Literature
Jewish Studies and the Jewish Question after Trump
Guest Editors: Michael Rothberg and Neil Levi
The election of Donald Trump has brought the “Jewish Question” back onto the intellectual agenda in a way that it has not been for decades. If the term was employed first by non-Jews in the context of emancipation, it was subsequently put into frequent use by Jews themselves to describe the vexed relationship between Jewishness and the dominant social formations of the modern world—whether Christianity, Europe, the West, the Nation State, Enlightenment, etc. The Jewish Question named, and names, a fundamental and unstable self-other relationship that is central to the production of both Jewish and non-Jewish identities in modernity.
The Trump phenomenon has both exposed dormant fissures in US society and galvanized new forces of disruption and identification alike. The significance of Jewishness in this moment of crisis is not singular. On the one hand, Trump’s ascendancy has inspired far-right groups to bring anti-Semitic, white supremacist, and fascist ideologies into the open in ways that would have seemed impossible even a few years ago. On the other hand, Trump’s closest advisors include highly visible Jewish Americans, such as Stephen Miller and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Trump can count among his supporters a significant number of prominent American Jews. If a key factor in Jewish support for Trump is no doubt an intensifying right-wing Zionism and Trump’s good relations with the current Israeli government as well as overt (and seemingly absolute) support of its policies, then a crucial factor in Jewish opposition to Trump is an increasingly articulated sense of solidarity between Jews and the many other groups made newly aware of a shared vulnerability in the face of Trump’s incitements. These tensions suggest that Jewishness might offer one key to understanding the Trump era.
How can we make sense of this contradictory and dynamic present? What resources can humanists bring to bear on the culture, history, and politics that have led to and resulted from the rise of Trump? Does the present make clear or demand new institutional and professional obligations? What special roles, if any, do Jewish Studies scholars and scholarship have to play in the current era? What kinds of histories can and should be written of our present moment? And given that many of these dynamics will likely play out on university campuses before they take the shape of fully-formed cultural and textual productions, what kinds of pedagogical issues have arisen in the Jewish Studies classroom in the age of Trump? This special issue of Studies in American Jewish Literature will explore the currency and mutations of the “Jewish Question” in Trump’s America. Essays, reviews, and short position papers on any aspect of Jewish American literature, culture, and cultural politics in relation to Trump, Zionism, Jewishness, and the reemergence of antisemitism are welcome. Comparative approaches are also encouraged as are pieces that address the Jewish question in relation to the intersecting vectors of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality.
Prospective contributors should email abstracts of 500-600 words by April 30, 2018. Final versions of accepted papers will be due by November 1, 2018.