Jews in the American Academy, 1900-1940: The Dynamics of Intellectual Assimilation

Susanne Klingenstein, Author Yale University Press $37 (248p) ISBN 978-0-300-04941-1
How Jewish scholars gradually won acceptance in the American academy is the theme of this lively composite portrait, originally a doctoral dissertation. Rebellious, ``language-crazed'' Leo Wiener (1862-1939), a Russian-born polyglot, ``stuck out like a sore thumb'' in Harvard's WASP community. Other Jewish academics remodeled themselves in the majority's image, feeling deeply alienated from their roots and from their parents. Morris Cohen (1880-1947), the ``Jewish Socrates'' of CCNY, as a self-proclaimed secularist embraced Enlightenment rationalism and denounced Zionism as ``tribalism,'' but by 1939 had become much more sympathetic toward the Zionist cause and Judaism in general. Never completely assimilated, ``young Lion'' Lionel Trilling (1905-1977), interpreter of literature as a medium of moral concern, served as role model to a generation of Columbia students. Focusing on a dozen or so male scholars, the author, a lecturer at Harvard, shows how academia molded these men even as they broke down its exclusionist barriers. Photos. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/04/1991
Release date: 11/01/1991
Paperback - 248 pages - 978-0-8156-0541-6
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