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Dubnov, Freud & Husserl: The Creation of Modern Consciousness in Eastern European Jewish Culture
Jan 7 2013

This lecture inaugurated the 2013 YIVO-Bard Winter Program on Ashkenazi Civilization.

The end of the 19th century saw the birth of secular Jewish nationalism, the discovery of psychoanalysis and the founding of the philosophical movement known as phenomenology. The work of Sigmund Freud, Edmund Husserl and Shimen Dubnov is part of a much larger development in East European Jewish life that also gave rise to the insistent universalism of political activists such as Chaim Zhitlovsky and the literary tradition that can be traced from the works of Sholem Aleichem to Philip Roth.

The question we must ask, therefore, is not why Jewish thinkers and writers so avidly coalesced around political and artistic movements offering universalist solutions; but rather why it was Jews and, in particular, Jews of East European background, who frequently led or invented these movements that directed the development of general European culture.
Jonathan Brent is the Executive Director of The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York City. From 1991 to 2009 he was Editorial Director and Associate Director of Yale Press. He is the founder of the world acclaimed Annals of Communism series, which he established at Yale Press in 1991. Brent is the co-author of Stalin’s Last Crime: The Plot Against the Jewish Doctors, 1948-1953 (Harper-Collins, 2003) and Inside the Stalin Archives (Atlas Books, 2008). He is now working on a biography of the Soviet-Jewish writer Isaac Babel. Brent teaches history and literature at Bard College.
Dubnov, Freud & Husserl Video