A non-universal global: On jewish writing and world literature

Lital Levy, Allison Schachter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


In our introduction to this special issue of Prooftexts, we continue our collaborative investigation of the multifacted relationship between Jewish literature and world literature, critiquing the dominant scholarly paradigms informing each of these two discourses. We argue that the decentered model of Jewish literatures exposes the limits of a world literature model defined through literary competition and exchange between nations, where “the world” is implicitly constructed from a majoritarian viewpoint. Here we characterize the relationship between Jewish literature and world literature in terms of the “nonuniversal global”: our term for the paradoxical condition of a global diaspora that is at once cosmopolitan and marked by its minority status. We draw upon the eight essays included in the issue to interrogate the relationship between World Literature and Jewish culture by focusing on how different modern Jewish writers understood the significance of “the world” in the context of their literary practice. Adducing the work of our contributors, we demonstrate how modern Jewish writing in sites across the globe and in a range of economic and political systems emerged asking questions of its own world status and its tranlatability. With emphases on questions of (un)translatability, cosmopolitanism, and diaspora, the eight essays in this issue illuminate our arguments through their analyses of the multiple trajectories of Jewish cultural modernity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalProoftexts - Journal of Jewish Literature History
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Religious studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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