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Figural Jews: Jewish Identity in Modern Literature and Philosophy

Date: 04/18/2014

Time: 9:00 AM - 12:00 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 Friday, April 18th is below. To view the schedule for Thursday, April 17th, please click here. For complete information, visit jwst@umn.edu.

Friday, April 18, 2014

9:00 AM:  Welcome: Riv-Ellen Prell, Professor of American Studies, and Director, Center for Jewish Studies

Chair: Leslie Morris, Professor of German, Scandinavian, and Dutch, University of Minnesota

Maurice Samuels, Betty Jane Anlyan Professor of French, Yale:  “Philosemitism and the Paradoxes of Universalism”

Ranen Omer-Sherman, Professor of English and Jewish Studies, University of Miami:  “‘The desert wrote the Jew, and the Jew reads himself in the desert’: Wanderers and Textuality in Hareven, Jabès, Zelitch”

Comment: Amy Kaminsky, Professor of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, University of Minnesota


Reflections: Jonathan Judaken, Spence L. Wilson Chair in Humanities, Rhodes College


  • 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:

This event is free and open to the public; however, reservations are required.  To reserve your ticket, please visit 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 via phone at 612-624-4914.

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