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Title: German and the Language Politics of Jewish Nationalism, 1870-1939
Authors: Volovici, Marc
Advisors: Rabinbach, Anson
Contributors: History Department
Keywords: German
Subjects: European history
Judaic studies
Modern history
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The German language had an ambivalent and controversial status in the Jewish world between the late eighteenth century and the late nineteenth century, being associated with different—often conflicting—ideas of modernization, assimilation, secularization, and religious reform. With the introduction of nationalist ideas into Central and Eastern Europe, the historical struggle over German’s competing meanings in Jewish societies came to the fore. Jewish nationalists mobilized the transnational quality of German to advance their cause, but they also combated German’s ubiquity in Jewish societies. German was the language of Central European imperial culture, but also the language of nationalist and socialist agitation. It was a major part of Jewish multilingualism, but also a role model of monolingual nationalism. It was a driving force of Jewish secularization, but also a nearly-sacred language of Jewish prayer and sermon. This dissertation traces the Jewish history of the German language between 1870 and 1939, using it as a prism for understanding the historical, religious, and ideological tensions and contradictions embedded in Jewish nationalism. I argue that German stood at the crossroads of key ideological, theological, and social currents of modern Jewish and European histories. As such, it defied the common distinction between Jewish and non-Jewish languages, allowing us to discern the multilingual underpinnings of Jewish nationalism. The dissertation begins with a chapter that lays out the different trajectories through which the German language came to be associated with transformative social and cultural processes. Each of the following chapters explores a different aspect of German’s ambivalent status in the Jewish world: its function as a language of transnational political agitation in nineteenth-century Central Europe; as a vehicle of scholarly knowledge in Eastern European Jewish communities; as a marker of diasporic Jewish multilingualism; as a language of modern Jewish theology; and as a language historically and linguistically bound up with Yiddish.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

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