With the rise of digital media, the "death of the book” has been widely discussed. But the physical object of the book persists. Here, through the lens of materiality and objects, Barbara E. Mann tells a history of modern Jewish literature, from novels and poetry to graphic novels and artists’ books. Bringing contemporary work on secularism and design in conversation with literary history, she offers a new and distinctive frame for understanding how literary genres emerge.
The long twentieth century, a period of tremendous physical upheaval and geographic movement, witnessed the production of a multilingual canon of writing by Jewish authors. Literature’s objecthood is felt not only in the physical qualities of books—bindings, covers, typography, illustrations—but also through the ways in which materiality itself became a practical foundation for literary expression.
“A bold, often surprising, and luminous study that enhances our perception.”—Ranen Omer-Sherman, University of Louisville
“Original and finely instructive, this work leads us to see something new and illuminating about the very modality of literature.”—Robert Alter, author of The Art of Biblical Narrative
“Whether reading the poignant details of memory books and graphic novels or analyzing small magazines and visual images in modern Jewish literature, Barbara Mann offers insight into the ways publications work as cultural objects in this vivid contribution to the material history of literature.”—Johanna Drucker, author of Iliazd: A Meta-Biography of a Modernist
“At once erudite, evocative, and intellectually exciting, this extraordinary book incites us to think in new ways about materiality and literature. This beautifully written and infinitely rewarding book resists a quick reading, demanding careful attentiveness from the first word to the last.”—Leora Auslander, University of Chicago