"The author examines the gradual opening of literary academe to Jewish faculty and analyzes the work Jewish scholars undertook to achieve their integration into an exclusive domain. Scholars examined include Harry Levin, Cynthia Ozick, Ruth Wisse, and Sacvan Bercovitch."—The New York Review of Books
"Susanne Klingenstein has done a masterful job of unearthing and reconstructing the hidden narrative of the Jewish arrival in the scholarly pursuit of literary studies at American universities. The tale is remarkable—and remarkably surprising. But this is not just a tale. Her fine and subtle interpretation of careers and their relationship to wider cultural trends and established institutions teaches us a great deal about the struggle for Jewish identity and about the higher learning in a once-closed, now relatively open society."—Martin Peretz, Editor in Chief , The New Republic
"Enlarging America is a book of extraordinary interest, talent and scope. The material that Susanne Klingenstein has unearthed and mastered is fresh; her research into the lives of a dozen literary scholars across a couple of generations is conscientious; and her presentation of their stories is so discerning that her theme-the meaning of academic success-becomes utterly compelling. . . . The most absorbing contribution to American Jewish historiography. . . . A work of genuine distinction."—Stephen J. Whitfield, Brandeis University
In this groundbreaking study, the author examines the gradual opening of literary academe to Jewish faculty and analyzes the critical work Jewish scholars undertook to achieve their integration into an exclusive WASP domain.
Beginning her story at Harvard University, Klingenstein describes the unique intellectual paths taken by scholars such as Harry Levin, Daniel Aaron, M. H. Abrams, Leo Marx, and Sacvan Bercovitch. At Columbia University, Klingenstein argues that the singular Jewish presence of Lionel Trilling shaped the minds and inspired the careers of Jewish intellectuals as different as Cynthia Ozick, Norman Podhoretz, Steven Marcus, and Carolyn Heilbrun.
Once Jewish scholars had attained a strong foothold in literary academe, pioneering spirits such as Robert Alter and Ruth R. Wisse turned their attention from English and American to Jewish literature in Hebrew and Yiddish.
Written as an interconnected series of twelve lucid and compelling portraits of major figures in the history of American literary criticism, this book illuminates the element of serendipity in culture-formation and exposes the social and intellectual forces at work in cultural change.
Susanne Klingenstein is associate professor of writing and humanistic studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The author of Jews in the American Academy, 1900-1940 and has contributed many articles on American Jewish literature and culture to scholarly journals.
6 x 9, 528 pages, 27 black and white illustrations