About the Transcultural Nature of Jewish Periodicals

Susanne Marten-Finnis, Michael Nagel

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Attributing significance to the location of the German-Jewish press at a crossroads in time and space is the theme of the proposed volume. It will gather selected contributions (in English and German) to a conference (University of Bremen, 24-27 November 2019), in which we undertook a focused mapping of Jewish periodical culture between German Enlightenment and National Socialism. The volume will include also items on curation and retrieval, documentary appreciation, conceptual frameworks and cosmopolitan citizenship. The latter is of particular relevance in view of the powerful communication ethos characterizing Jewish periodicals since their emergence as a child of the Haskalah, combining Jewish tradition with philosophical inquiry, spiritual guidance and knowledge dissemination, reaching far beyond the confines of Jewish communal structures.
Established and early-stage researchers from Germany, Israel, Belarus, Ukraine, the UK and the US will examine the cultural hubs (Schaltstellen) and transcultural aspects of periodicals, normally pertaining not just to a city or region but also to a particular era. The syllable trans – as opposed to for instance inter – points to the direction of permeation (Scheuerstellen). Transculturality is built on the understanding that cultures in the widest sense have neither evolved as distinct entities, nor even primarily by interaction of separate units, but rather by entanglements, exchange, porosity and hybridization. This is something that requires our attention, if we want to transcend the conventional approach with its focus on the context of the nation state.
What are the implications for the study of Jewish periodicals? Firstly, it means that we have to move away from the descriptive parameters of single disciplines and proceed with research methods and conceptual frameworks that have a common applicability for scholars of both the humanities and social sciences.
Secondly, it suggests the application of explanatory models and interpretative strategies that challenge the common reflectionist approach of the relationship between history and culture, i.e. the idea that a cultural text can directly reflect the experiences of social groups during a certain period.
Instead, we argue in favour of research methods that accommodate categories such as settlement and mobility, toleration and disavowal, positioning and ambiguity as three modes characteristic of the entanglements between agents from a variety of cultural backgrounds. This will enable us to examine historical Jewish periodicals in its rich variety that emerged from inherent resources and cohabitation, but also non-negotiable boundaries. It is expected to find a character of integrity within the diverse experience of Jewish editors and readers, derived from their rooted or portable identities, and thus a new perspective, stressing the shared heritage of the historical Jewish press.
Contributors will take a hermeneutical approach in order to honour the unique textual tradition of the Jewish press, its simultaneous insularity and cosmopolitanism, in order to reveal its transcultural nature both within the confines of Ashkenazy Jewry and beyond. They will demonstrate how the mapping of Jewish periodical culture provides a fundamental component for a universal approach to study the Jewish question in the historical context.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTubingen
PublisherMohr Siebeck
Number of pages300
VolumeSchriftenreihe wissenschaftlicher Abhandlungen des Leo Baeck Instituts
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2022


  • Historical Jewish Press in Germany


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