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RACIAL FEVER

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What makes a person Jewish? Why do some people feel they have physically inherited the memories of their ancestors? Is there any way to think about race without reducing it to racism or to physical differences?

These questions are at the heart of Racial Fever: Freud and the Jewish Question. Slavet moves far beyond debates about how Freud felt about Judaism; instead she explores what he wrote about Jewishness: what it is, how it is transmitted, and how it has survived. 

Freud's theory of Jewishness emerges as the culmination of his work on transference, telepathy and inter-generational transmission, and on the relationships between memory and its rivals: history, heredity and fantasy. Writing on the eve of the Holocaust, Freud proposed that Jewishness is constituted by the inheritance of ancestral memories; thus, regardless of any attempts to repress, suppress or repudiate Jewishness, Jews will remain Jewish and Judaism will survive, for better and for worse.



artwork by Steven Ausbury

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"Timely and provocative, this book will interest anyone who wants to understand why we continue to think about the question of who's a Jew and what this has to do with Sigmund Freud."
   Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer

"Slavet's sympathetic approach... is audacious, and she asks questions that are still relevant despite, or because of, their very toxicity."
  Harper's Magazine (Oct. 2009)

"Eliza Slavet has opened a most surprising and ground-breaking window on the much debated question of the unconscious in cultural memory. Perhaps it required not only a great scholar but also a young woman and an artist to write this lucid and passionate book for which we have been waiting since Yerushalmi's and Derrida's debate on Freud and Judaism in the early 90s."
   —Jan Assmann, author of Moses the Egyptian: The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism

"A central text for the ongoing discussion of Jewishness in the contemporary world... Many of us will be engaged with it in the near and distant future."
   —Sander Gilman, author of Jewish Self-Hatred and Freud, Race, and Gender

"Amazingly detailed and precise. Racial Fever offers a vivid survey of the debate triggered by Freud's decision to call Moses an Egyptian. We needed a new approach to the controversy and Slavet's original intervention does this brilliantly, with unerring flair and insight." 
   —Jean-Michel Rabaté, University of Pennsylvania

"Eliza Slavet offers a brilliant reading of Freud's Moses and Monotheism as the prism with which to view modern Jewish ideas of race and inherited identity. By situating Freud's last book in this larger field, she sheds new light on how Jews have struggled to define a Jewishness that is beyond religion. Stylistically riveting, Racial Fever makes a major contribution to modern Jewish history, cultural studies and European intellectual history." 
   —David Biale, author of Blood and Belief: The Circulation of a Symbol Between Jews and Christians 

Racial Fever is part of a now venerable tradition of scholarship that engages with the history and accomplishments of the psychoanalytic movement. Slavet is fair in her assessments of rival scholars, pointed and eloquent in how her own interpretations differ from or overlap with those of others, and has followed up every available lead to document her arguments.”
   —Robert Nye, Oregon State University


For review copies, please contact Fordham University Press.