"The Crisis of All Nations": Cosmopolitanism, Nationalism, and the Emergence of Anglo-Jewish Zionism (1789-1917)
“Was it not an Englishwoman, George Eliot, who invented Zionism, and who, five years before even Pinsker, marvellously interpreted the yet unborn?” Israel Zangwill, The Voice of Jerusalem In my dissertation I illuminate nineteenth-century Anglo-Jewish literature as a substantial political factor in the public sphere centered around questions of the nation and its role in the empire and the world. This is a story of how Anglo-Jewish writers modified mainstream literary forms (genres and devices) in order to articulate a modern synthetic Anglo-Jewish identity as integrated into the majority nation, while also connected to the international network of Jewish diasporic communities. At the same time, non-Jewish British writers appropriated Jewish history and culture to negotiate changes in British national identity and offset Jews as a touchstone but separate group. The principal tokens in this polemical discourse of belonging were perspectives on Israel/Zion and Jewish internationalism. In continuous dialogue with dominant culture, Anglo-Jewish writers reimagined Jewish collectivity in religious, civilizational, ethno-cultural or racial terms, in parallel with dominant constructions of the British nation while reshaping associated literary genres. In their writings, they addressed both non-Jewish British readers and Anglo-Jewish audiences, as they were trying to imagine and advocate new forms of attachment and association.
(Excerpt from Zia's proposal)