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 an 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 (forthcoming in paper from Syracuse University Press, see below), she has contributed many articles on American Jewish literature and culture to scholarly journals.
The Havard Circle, The Yard from Santayana to T.S. Eliot - Portrait of the Scholar as a Young Man: Harry Levin - Leaving the Yard: Leo Marx. The Columbia Sphere, Refractions of Lionel Trilling: Cynthia Ozick, Steven Marcus, Carolyn Heilbrun - Unfolding Hebrew Prose: Robert Alter - The Lessons of Yiddish Culture: Ruth R. Wisse - Judaic Traditions in Literature. Music and Art