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Research

My current work seeks to explore the question how constructions of Jewishness and other forms of ethnicity/race, gender, class and nation interrelate and respond to specific historical configurations of capitalist modernity, but fulfill different discursive functions within them. That is, my research moves the analysis away from a simple 'self-other' binary and focuses on differences in constructions of alterity as well as their commonalities, without, therefore, treating them as merely additive and disconnected.

In my book Gespaltene Moderne: Gustav Freytags Soll und Haben (2007), I use Freytag's influential novel as a prism through which to explore intersecting nineteenth century discourses of nation, class, Jewishness, race, colonialism, and gender as modes of reaction to the experience of modernity and modernisation. I also investigate the ways in which the narrative form of the text is related to the political and social concerns of the novel and reflects contemporary aesthetic debates on whether modern society is still amenable to literary representation.

My current research for a second monograph is centered on a series of case studies, tracing the development of constructions of Jewishness and femininity and their interrelations in German-speaking Central European culture between the late eighteenth and the early twentieth century. These studies seek to explore the dialectic between abstract universalist tendencies and novel forms of difference and exclusion as an important feature of modernity. At the same time, this analysis will serve as an opportunity to investigate the respective strengths and limitations of older critical approaches, such as those of the Frankfurt School, and those of theoretical frameworks developed within more recent gender and postcolonial theory, and to explore the extent to which these traditions might be put into a mutually fruitful dialogue. This work is supported by a Research Fellowship at the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.