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7 Anne Frank, a Guest at the Seder

Barbara KirshenblattGimblett Indiana University Press ePub

Liora Gubkin

Anne Frank never mentions the Jewish holiday of Passover in her diary. There is no evidence in the diary that Anne ever attended a seder, the ritual meal traditionally held in Jewish homes on the first and second nights of Passover. Yet, every year when Jews recount the story of their freedom and redemption from slavery in ancient Egypt, Anne is a “guest” at many a seder through her presence in several American Passover haggadahs. Her appearance speaks not only to her familiarity and popularity, but also to the extent to which her writing has been readily adapted. The best-known words of Anne Frank—“I still believe that people are really good at heart,” part of a diary entry written on July 15, 1944—foster creative engagements with diverse understandings of slavery and freedom and their implications for American Jews wrestling with the legacy of the Holocaust.

Passover is one of the most popular holidays for American Jews, and the haggadah, the text used to conduct the seder, is the most widely published Jewish text in the United States.1 Thousands of versions of the haggadah have been created over the centuries.2 Today, one can purchase or download a haggadah for a wide array of interests, including haggadahs with traditional commentary, a haggadah for Jews and Buddhists, a haggadah for a thirty-minute seder (the traditional ritual can last several hours), and haggadahs for activists committed to a variety of political causes. These politically engaged haggadahs follow the models of self-published haggadahs by left-wing activists in the 1960s and ’70s and, before those, haggadahs issued by secular Yiddishists and Zionists beginning in the 1930s. The traditional haggadah exhorts seder participants to reflect upon the personal nature of oppression and its relevance in the present by encouraging an imaginative ritual performance of identification with the oppressed and by issuing a call to end all subjugation. While innovative haggadahs typically follow the basic structure of the traditional text, they may complement ritual instructions, biblical passages, and early rabbinic commentaries with selections from modern and contemporary texts, including Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl, that span the dimensions of time and place. Many innovative haggadahs published in the United States during the last forty years use these additional texts to deliberately link the ancient Israelite journey from slavery to freedom with such contemporary social and political issues as the threat of nuclear war, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, vegetarianism, feminism, the oppression of Soviet Jewry, and the Holocaust.

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Peirce, Charles S. PDF


W R I T I N G S OF C H A R L E S S. P E I R C E , 1884-1886

One, Two, Three: Kantian


Item 47

MS 572: Summer 1886

This is the day for doubting axioms. With mathematicians, the question is settled; there is no reason to believe that the geometrical axioms are exactly true. Metaphysics is an imitation of geometry, and with the geometrical axioms the metaphysical axioms must go too.

We have no reason to think that the sum of the three angles of a triangle is exactly equal to two right-angles. All that we can say is that the excess or defect is proportional to the area of the triangle, and that it is excessively minute even for the most enormous triangles of astronomy. The sum of the three angles of a triangle of unit size is a physical constant nearly equal to 180 degrees; but its exact value is unknown to us.

Since we have no reason to think that this constant is exactly equal to 180 degrees, and there is an infinite multitude of other values that it can equally well have, the odds are at present infinity to one against its being exactly 180 degrees, so that that hypothesis ought to be entirely dismissed from our minds.

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7 The Efficacy of Performance: Musical Events in The Years

Adriana L. Varga Indiana University Press ePub

Elicia Clements

THE YEARS (1937) IS WOOLFS MOST OVERTLY POLITICAL NOVEL; it reveals her growing concern in the 1930s to illuminate the social cost of what she will call “subconscious Hitlerism” in her 1940 essay “Thoughts on Peace in an Air Raid.” Simultaneously, the novel “turns up the volume,” so to speak, by foregrounding aurality in new and ubiquitous ways. In this essay, I argue that the two foci converge in the subject matter of The Years. In the thirties, Woolf searched for new ways not just to comment on social and political issues but also to produce writings that might break down the art/life dichotomy and actively engage in political critique. As Jessica Berman reminds us concerning Orlando and The Waves, “Woolf creates an alternative discourse of feminist action and power, one which seeks to intervene directly in the political life of Britain [during the period from 1929 to 1931]” (116). I would suggest further, for different but related reasons, that Woolf was equally concerned with generating “real” change through efficacious methods and means in The Years (especially as Hitler’s voice thundered over the wireless). By analyzing representations of musical performance in the novel, I demonstrate that Woolf deftly integrates aspects from the art forms of music, drama, and literature to elaborate practices of aesthetic efficacy.

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39. Review of Spencer’s Essays

Charles S. Peirce Indiana University Press PDF


Review of Spencer’s Essays

8 October 1891

The Nation

Essays, Scientific, Political, and Speculative. By Herbert Spencer. Library Edition, containing seven essays not before republished, and various other additions. 3 vols., 8vo, pp. 478, 466,

516. With an alphabetical index. D. Appleton & Co. 1891.

The theory of ethics which has latterly been taking shape under the hands of Stephen, Spencer, and others, is, from a practical point of view, one of the most important boons that philosophy has ever imparted to the world, since it supplies a worthy motive to conservative morals at a time when all is confused and endangered by the storm of new thought, the disintegration of creeds, and the failure of all evidences of an exalted future life.

The little of new which is contributed to the ethical theory in the present edition of Mr. Spencer’s essays is contained in the essays on the

“Ethics of Kant” and on “Absolute Political Ethics.” It was hardly to be expected that the additions would go to enhance Mr. Spencer’s wellbuilt-up reputation. The popularity of his doctrine has probably passed its meridian. In one of the new essays, he quotes with admiration Huxley’s fine saying, “Science commits suicide when it adopts a creed.”

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The Politics of Place: An Interview with Terry Tempest Williams Scott London, Insight & Outlook Radio Show, 1995

Michael Austin Utah State University Press ePub

The connection between language and landscape is a perennial theme of American letters. Nature has been a well-spring for many of our finest writers—from Whitman and Thoreau to Peter Mathiessen and Edward Abbey. Terry Tempest Williams belongs in this tradition. A native of Utah, her naturalist writing has been richly influenced by the sprawling landscape of the West. It also draws on the values and beliefs of her Mormon background.

Terry Tempest Williams is the naturalist-in-residence at the Utah Museum of Natural History in Salt Lake City. She was thrown into the literary spotlight in 1991, with the release of her sixth book, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place. It tells of how the Great Salt Lake rose to record levels and eventually flooded the wetlands that serve as a refuge for migratory birds in Northern Utah. Williams tells the story against the backdrop of her family’s struggle with cancer as a result of living downwind from a nuclear test site.

For Williams, there is a very close connection between ourselves, our people, and our native place. In the words of the Utne Reader—who recently included her among their 100 leading “visionaries”—her writing “follows wilderness trails into the realm of memory and family, exploring gender and community through the prism of landscape.”

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