As the official release of The Art of Being Jewish in Modern Times approaches, co-editors Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett and Jonathan Karp have extended their collaboration from the printed page to the internet. A companion web site, hosted by New York University, is scheduled to go online in the spring of 2008. Here, Kirshenblatt-Gimblett and Karp describes their path from conversation to book to web.
We spent the better part of the
academic year 2000-2001 together at Penn’s Center for Advanced Judaic Studies discussing the impact of the arts on modern Jewish life. This book grows out of those sometimes contentious but always rewarding conversations. It is the first work to analyze modern Jewry’s engagement with the arts as a whole, including music, theater, dance, film, museums, architecture, painting, sculpture, and more. Taken together, the essays in this volume entertain the hypothesis that the arts have played a key role in enabling Jews to become
modern, or to put it otherwise, that the "modern Jewish experience" has in some sense been a pointedly artistic one.
Given the range and variety of essays in this book, we believe it
could form the basis for a course on Jews and modernity from the
perspective of the arts. Why not develop a companion book site that
would provide primary sources in various media–film, photography,
paintings, music, documents–we could not provide in the book itself?
Exactly what we want to do.
We admire Teaching the Journal of American History and take it
as our model. The basic principle is to teach from primary sources. To that end, we propose to “reverse engineer” each chapter and provide the primary sources that the author used. While learning to work with sources in a wide
range of media, students would also be in a better position to challenge what they read based on their own analysis of the sources. Recommended readings, additional resources, and links would encourage students to explore the topic more widely or in greater depth.
We’ll be posting here as the project develops, so please check back for news.
For those of you near Binghamton, NY, Jonathan Karp will be at the Annual JCC Binghamton Book Fair this Sunday at 2 p.m.to discuss modern Jewry and the arts.