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Jewish Primitivism - Stanford Scholarship Online
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Jewish Primitivism

Samuel J. Spinner


Around the beginning of the twentieth century, Jewish writers and artists across Europe began depicting fellow Jews as savages or “primitive” tribesmen, using ethnographic and folkloristic tropes as a way of negotiating their position as insider-outsiders in Europe. Samuel Spinner argues that in literature, graphic art, and photography, Jewish modernists developed a distinct primitivist aesthetic that, by locating the savage present in Europe, challenged the idea of the threatening savage other from outside Europe on which much primitivism relied: in Jewish primitivism, the savage is already t ... More

Keywords: primitivism, Yiddish literature, German-Jewish literature, photography, Franz Kafka, S. An-sky; Y. L. Peretz, folklore, ethnography, Jewish identity, Jewish culture

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2021 Print ISBN-13: 9781503628274
Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: January 2022 DOI:10.11126/stanford/9781503628274.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Samuel J. Spinner, author
Johns Hopkins University