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Figural Jews: Jewish Identity in Modern Literature and Philosophy

Date: 04/17/2014

Time: 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Location: Shepherd Room Weisman Art Museum

Cost: Free


The goal of this symposium is to reflect on the question of Jew as metaphor in theology, philosophy, history, literature, literary theory and film. “Troping” the Jew has a long history that can be traced back to Paul and the overcoming of the letter/law. The Jew “in the spirit,” the Jew “in the heart,” arguably designates the first avatar of the “figural Jew.”

Pauline dialectic (the replacement of law with faith, of flesh with spirit) had a considerable influence on Christian Europe and shaped European anti-Judaism. It has been argued that in secular Europe, the Pauline paradigm persists to inform ways of engaging with Jews in the contemporary era (e.g., in thinkers such as Giorgio Agamben or Alain Badiou). The symposium will probe the historical, literary and philosophical limits of the figural use of Jews.

The event is free and open to the public; however, reservations are required.  Please visit z.umn.edu/figuraljews to register.

The symposium is a two-day event.  Information for Thursday, April 17th is below.  To view the schedule for Friday, April 18, please click here.  For complete information, visit jwst@umn.edu.

1:00 PM:  Welcome: Michal Kobialka, Professor of Theatre Arts & Dance and Associate Dean for Faculty, University of Minnesota
1:10 PM:  Welcome: Daniel Schroeter, Amos S. Deinard Chair,History Department, University of Minnesota
1:15 PM:  Introduction: Bruno Chaouat, Professor and Chair of French and Italian, University of Minnesota

Chair: Alejandro Baer, Professor of Sociology and Director, Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, University of Minnesota

Keynote, “All the Rest is Literature"

Sarah Hammerschlag, Assistant Professor of Religion and Literature at the University of Chicago Divinity School

Comment: Bruno Chaouat, Professor of French, University of Minnesota
Philip Sellew, Professor of Classical and Near Eastern Studies, University of Minnesota

3:00 PM:  BREAK

Chair: Patricia Lorcin, Professor of History, University of Minnesota

Jeffrey Mehlman, Professor of French at Boston University:  “Further Thoughts on the Blanchot-Derrida Connection”

Jonathan Freedman, Professor of English and American Culture at the University of Michigan:  "Job in the Midwest: The Coen Brothers and the Trial of the Figural Jew”

Comment: Christophe Wall-Romana, Professor of French and Italian, University of Minnesota


  • Name: Laura Lechner
  • E-mail: jwst@umn.edu
  • Phone: 612-624-4914
  • Sponsored by: Jewish Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, Philosophy, French & Italian, History, Cultural Studies & Comparative Literature, the Knapp Family Foundation


Parking is available in the Weisman Art Museum Garage.

Reservation Information:

The event is free and open to the public; however, reservations are required.  You can reserve your ticket at z.umn.edu/figuraljews

More information: http://www.jwst.umn.edu

Disability Options:

To request disability accommodations, please contact Laura Lechner at jwst@umn.edu or 612-624-4914.

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