A Mark Twain scholar. An African American philosopher. A lesbian feminist literary critic. A Cuban-American anthropologist. A German immigrant to the United States. A professor of English at a Jesuit university. All share their reflections on the interconnectedness of identities and ideas in People of the Book, the first book in which Jewish-American scholars examine how their Jewishness has shaped and influenced their intellectual endeavors, and how their intellectual work has deepened their sense of themselves as Jews.
The contributors are highly productive and respected Jewish American scholars, critics, and teachers from departments of English, history, American studies, Romance literature, Slavic studies, art, women's studies, comparative literature, anthropology, Judaic studies, and philosophy. Nearly an equal mix of men and women, the authors of these analytical and autobiographical essays include white Jews and black Jews; orthodox, conservative, reform, and totally secular Jews; Jews by birth and Jews by conversion; past presidents of the Modern Language Association and American Studies Association and young scholars at the start of their careers.
"What is fresh and exhilarating about this volume is the articulation of a wide array of very personal views on Jewish identity that are thoughtful, interesting, often moving and inspiring. Most interestingly, they emanate from scholars in secular fields who are uninterested in pleading a cause, staking a claim, organizing a movement, or promoting an agenda, yet whose emotional ties to Jewish peoplehood, values, and ideals are pronounced and eminently worth discovering."—Rabbi Stanley M. Wagner, Center for Judaic Studies, University of Denver