Between Shtetl and Salon: Jewish Women in Vienna 1900 Essay



Alison Rose’s open uping monograph Judaic Womans in Fin de Siecle Vienna charts new district on the familiar Waterss of Vienna 1900. Since the publication of Carl Schorske’s obliging series of cultural historical essays ( Fin-de-siecle Vienna: Politicss and Culture [ 1980 ] ) . a theoretical account that attributed an flower of modern art. literature. and scientific discipline in the Austrian capital circa 1890-1914 to the disillusioned boies of liberalism. historiographers have revised and expanded facets of the Schorskean “failure of liberalism” paradigm.

A figure of recent plants have corrected Schorske’s disregard of the clearly Judaic character of Viennese modernism. foregrounding the prevalence of Judaic backing of modern art. parts to literature. doctrine. and psychological science. and even suggesting that impressions of Judaic enlightenment. or Haskalah. stamped the general character of the Viennese five de siecle. [ 1 ] Yet. aside from a few general plants. Rose’s groundbreaking publication represents the first full-length survey dedicated to a gendered analysis of Viennese Jewry circa 1900.

Establishing her work on aggregations of personal documents. memoirs. booklets. and unwritten histories housed in American. Austrian. and Israeli depositories. Rose seeks to “reintegrate Judaic adult females into the history of bend of the century Vienna in order to show their importance as cultural creators” ( p. 2 ) . With distinguished path records as salonieres and concern associates. Judaic adult females harnessed the flexibleness in Talmudic jurisprudence and traditional and reform Judaism to prosecute a assortment of spiritual. cultural. and rational chases impeling Viennese modernism.

Rose reveals how Jews and adult females navigated similar challenges in the late nineteenth-century battle for emancipation. in their otherness vis-a-vis mainstream civilization. and in the outgrowth of a group consciousness. Further associating the parallel development of Austro-Hungarian Judaic emancipation and the women’s motion were deep-rooted stereotypes of the muliebrity and physical failing of male Jews. efficaciously deconstructed throughout the book via modern-day spiritual. literary. and scientific discourse.

Embedded in “the sensed Judaization and feminisation of Viennese civilization. ” dianoetic linkage of Jews and adult females ran rampant in late imperial Austria ( p. 3 ) . Judaic adult females. hence. double represented a bete noire to Austria’s traditional societal order: both as increasingly educated adult females. possible bas bleus and “hysterical intersexs. ” and as Jews in a clime of lifting antisemitism.

Yet the writer maintains that Judaic women’s societal activism and progressive self-identities non merely dispute Schorske’s and Peter Hanak’s impression of the broad retreat from political relations but besides necessitate the alteration of theories of Judaic individuality. including Marsha Rozenblit’s persuasive tripartite thesis. which posits that Habsburg-treu Austrian Jews navigated coincident individualities as Jews. Austrians. andGermans/Czechs.

Modifying Rozenblit’s theoretical account. Rose proposes the thought of a “quadpartite individuality for Austrian Judaic women” ( p. 220 ) . However. while gender embodies an of import factor in attuning group individuality. the absence of every bit “useful” classs. such as category and instruction. strikes a unresolved chord. A more complex polygonal expression factorization in these and other individuality determiners presents a richer solution. for adding gender as a discreet class unmitigated by farther qualifiers runs the hazard of essentialization.

Size uping non merely Judaic women’s practical engagement in instruction. philanthropic gift. faith. psychological science. and civilization. but besides representations of Judaic adult females by the scholarly rabbinic community and elect ballad leading. Rose employs a Manichaean methodological analysis balanced between discourse and pattern. Occasionally. nevertheless. the reader wishes that the writer had sacrificed more of her otherwise absorbing analyses of Zionist texts and literature written by Judaic work forces for beginnings penned by her female historical topics.

Not the “New Woman” of the Judaic Burgertum. endeavoring for women’s emancipation and cultural assimilation. but traditional Judaic matrons of the working and upper categories. dedicated to household. community. and Judaic spiritualty. involvement Rose. Rose unfolds the narrative of her Judaic women– married womans. female parents. community and spiritual militants. and psychological and literary figures–in the span of six concise chapters. Get downing with the “Childhood and Youth of Jewish Girls. ” Rose portrays the sense of disaffection and difference environing Viennese Judaic maidenhood.

Biographical and anecdotal grounds provides a rich mosaic of Judaic misss turning up with Easter eggs. Christmas trees. and rosary-touting nursemaids. and the resulting cultural and spiritual confusion experienced by such misss at place and school. While controversial among the Viennese rabbinical elite. a assortment of apologetically derived rituals–above all. the debut of girls’ verification in stead of the saloon mitzvah–carved out a greater infinite for adult females in Judaism than that prescribed by Talmudic jurisprudence.

Along with Rose’s 4th chapter on Zionist adult females. the 2nd chapter. “Community. Spirituality. and Philanthropy. ” constitutes the book’s strong suit. Making a convincing instance for Viennese specialness. Rose argues that neither the Western European theoretical account situating Judaic women’s continuation of traditional spiritual pattern in the place nor the Eastern European form in which Judaic adult females. secure of their cultural sharpness through ghettoization. became progressively secular. adequately describes Vienna’s state of affairs as a hamlets between East and West. modernness and tradition. the native and alien.

Alternatively. with minimum spiritual pattern in the place and small societal isolation. Viennese Jews “retained Jewish peculiarity chiefly in instruction. societal. and political forms. and were reminded of their individuality by anti-Semitism” ( p. 43 ) . A assortment of Judaic supplication groups. charitable conferences. and hospital-visiting societies. although partly influenced by modern European values. expressed a specifically Judaic womanly ideal favoring household. faith. and community.

Chapter 3. “University and Political Engagement. ” presents a great letdown to readers. non merely in its preemptory treatment of late nineteenth-century educational reforms but besides in its skip of non-Jewish conferences and schools in which Judaic work forces and adult females constituted a impulsive force. Vienna’s Athenaum. an association of ( mostly Jewish ) university professors offering university-caliber talks to adult females. constitutes merely one such illustration.

Along with her brief study of women’s instruction in chapter 1. Rose nowadayss the narrative of women’s educational reforms in a somewhat deceptive mode. For case. the non-specialist would garner from chapter 3 that the University of Vienna’s “faculty of doctrine opened to adult females in 1897” and the evangelical module did non acknowledge adult females “until 1923” ( p. 88 ) . In fact. the Philosophical Faculty opened to Austrian adult females as non-matriculating hearers every bit early as 1878 and the evangelical module admitted adult females in the 1920/21 academic twelvemonth.

While adult females lacked full rights of matriculation until 1897. Austria however excelled in front of its purportedly more progressive Western European neighbours in acknowledging adult females. if provisionally. to university surveies. Rose addresses the progressive facets of Austrian women’s instruction sidelong. saying that “the scrutinies taking to the Matura had been available to adult females since 1872” ( p. 94 ) . The resulting series of edicts to the full recognizing women’s undergraduate and doctorial surveies. which were of no little importance to Judaic adult females given their comparative overrepresentation in higher instruction. are glossed over excessively rapidly.

That the majority of the author’s instance surveies of Judaic academic adult females fall in typically masculine Fieldss of medical specialty. scientific discipline. and jurisprudence downplay female students’ strength in modern linguistics ( peculiarly Gallic and English ) . literature. and art history. While Rose is to be applauded for conveying attending to female faculty members in such “unfeminine” Fieldss to visible radiation. a elucidation that the bulk of female university pupils ab initio pursued concentrations in traditionally feminine topics. such as linguistic communication. literature. and art. would hold been welcome.

As a counterpoint to the 3rd chapter’s female faculty members and militants. chapter 5 inside informations how Zionism offered Judaic girls. married womans. and female parents alternate waies to the New Society’s promise of gender symmetricalness. In an advanced gendered analysis of Theodor Herzl’s and other Zionists’ landmark plant. Rose reveals that “Zionist leaders used Judaic adult females as whipping boies. faulting them for assimilation. for the deficiency of support for the Zionist motion. and for the moral lacks of Diaspora Jewry” ( p. 39 ) . Redemption from unnatural gender ordinations ensuing from Diaspora life ( that is. the overbearing matrons of Eastern Europe and the West’s egoistic. bejeweled. and mercenary dolls ) could be found in the New Society. wherein virtuous married womans and female parents ( “Estet Hayil” ) would be re-feminized by focus oning their lives around household and place. Likewise. emasculated. henpecked work forces would recapture their virility by working the land.

Rose’s fifth chapter on adult females as practicians and topics of medical specialty and depth psychology besides confronts such sexualized stereotypes of Jews. including sexual edacity. mental and physical softness. and reversal of masculine and feminine gender traits. From Freudian theories on women’s maleness composite to self detesting Jews. including woman hater philosopher Otto Weininger. Judaic psychologists and theoreticians “challenged the racial footing of negative stereotypes of the male Jew. while encompassing negative stereotypes of adult females and Judaic women” ( p. 79 ) . The concluding chapter on art and literature offers fascinating deconstructions of the Ghettogeschichte’s virtuous female types. characters drawing male supporters back to Judaism after periods of spiritual uncertainty. Yet. unfortunately. the writer omits the all right and applied humanistic disciplines. a major avenue of Judaic women’s originative look. In add-on to functioning as frequenters of the Wiener Werkstatte and other modernist enterprises. Judaic adult females played a major function as creative persons in Austria’s fin-de-siecle Frauenkunst motion.

While the writer references a predecessor conference. the League of Viennese Women Artists and Writers ( 1886 ) . Judaic women’s strong presence in Austria’s twentieth-century adult females artists conferences runing for adult females artists’ artistic. economic. and institutional para is omitted wholly. Besides excluded is the Viennese Ladies’ Academy ( 1897 ) . a private. subsequently publically incorporated province academy founded and funded mostly by Jews to supply adult females with professional artistic preparation.

Particularly in visible radiation of Steven Beller’s statements on Jews’ comparatively minor Numberss as ocular creative persons. the prima function of Judaic familial webs in such conferences and academies demands farther enquiry. [ 3 ] Overall. the grade to which the writer succeeds in her revisionist purpose remains compromised by her suppression of inter-confessional conferences. associations. and groups in which Judaic adult females played major functions.

In “reinsert [ ing ] the Judaic adult female into her proper topographic point as a polar figure both in the fin-de-siecle imaginativeness and in the mundane world of Viennese society. political relations. and civilization. ” the author’s insisting on concentrating entirely on Judaic organisations obscures Judaic women’s enormous parts to the women’s motion ( p. 5 ) . By marginalising the experiences of assimilated Viennese Jewry. Rose has internalized her subjects’ antipathy to the upper-middle-class Judaic adult female. with her strong assimilationst and emancipatory inclinations.

While Rose right highlights that the headlining voices of middle-class Austrian feminism ( Marianne Hainisch. Rosa Mayreder. and Marie Lang ) were Gentiles. Judaic women’s presence in the rank and file of the Austrian women’s motion should non be underestimated. Judaic adult females played a major. if non dominant. function in a assortment of progressive conferences dedicated to fostering women’s educational. vocational. and rational development.

While Rose’s focal point resides chiefly in adult females continuing traditional Judaic spiritual and societal patterns. surely the individuality of assimilated Jewish women–the adult females who contributed so enormously to a assortment of progressive causes under the umbrella of the women’s movement–and the mode in which such adult females navigated conflicting commitments of Judaism. modernness. and feminism deserves greater attending. Such women’s unwavering commitments to broad rules of Bildung. self-help. and self-improvement would hold merely stoked the tinder of her statements on the continued verve of Austrian liberalism.

In add-on. readers might happen a seamless presentation of stuff. instead than subchapters and subdivisions. more effectual. Despite such minor defects. Rose’s monograph on Judaic adult females constitutes a groundbreaking part to the go oning scholarly duologue on Vienna 1900. In switching the focal point of the conversation to gender. sexual. and spiritual individualities. Rose non merely gives Judaic adult females their rightful topographic point in the annals of Viennese cultural history but besides provides the field with new ways to size up the city’s contested modernness.