UConn professor included in project to preserve the best of Jewish culture
By Rebecca Isenstein
An article by Professor Nehama Aschkenasy of the University of Connecticut at Stamford is included in the first volume of work to be released by Yale University Press that will be included in the new Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization, an ambitious project to collect, preserve and share the best of Jewish culture from around the world. The volume is the first to be released in what will be a series of ten encyclopedic volumes.
The series, notes its editor-in-chief, James E. Young, a professor of English and Judaic Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, “will provide future generations with a working legacy by which to recover and comprehend Jewish culture and civilization.”
Volume 10, which was released first and includes Aschkenasy’s article, is a collection of works dating from 1973 through 2005. It also includes works by cultural figures, such as authors Saul Bellow and Judy Blume, architect Frank Gehry, sculptor Louise Nevelson, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Harvard law professor Alan M Dershowitz.
Aschkenasy is the founding director of the Center for Judaic and Middle Eastern Studies at UConn, Stamford. Her article, “Recreating the Canon,” argues that modern Hebrew works, secular in nature and ideology, constantly engage in discourse with the Hebraic “master narrative,” the Bible, embedding echoes and recreating tales from it but also challenging the ancient canon. It further explores the cultural paradox inherent in this phenomenon and its theological and nationalist significance. The article appears in the section titled “Intellectual Culture,” which includes essays by cultural luminaries such as Isaiah Berlin, Elie Wiesel, Harold Bloom, Alan Dershowitz, and Deborah E. Lipstadt.
The series is a joint enterprise of Yale University Press and the Posen Foundation. According to Yale University Press, it took the editors of the inaugural volume ten years to select landmark essays from the wealth and diversity of contemporary Jewish life and letters that they considered most illuminating, influential, or outstanding intellectual contributions. The “Index of Authors” at the end of this volume is virtually a “who’s who” of contemporary Jewish personalities whose works have enriched the broad spectrum of cultural life, general and Jewish, covering the arts, architectures, drama and poetry, children’s literature, modern Jewish writings world-wide, popular culture, religious and spiritual expressions, politics, the women’s movement, and the various scholarly fields in history, thought, literary criticism, Israel studies, and the Holocaust.
In the coming years, Yale University Press will publish the remaining nine volumes, each covering a crucial period in Jewish history. “We hope that The Posen Library will open the world’s eyes to the extraordinary contributions that Jewish thinkers, writers, and artists have made as Jews to dozens of other national cultures around the globe,” Young says.