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Title: Poststructuralism avant la lettre : language and gender in the thought of Rabbi Shalom Dovber Schneersohn
Author: Leigh, Aaron Reuven
ISNI:       0000 0004 8500 4325
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2020
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Rabbi Shalom Dovber Schneersohn (1860-1920) is a relatively unknown and under-researched rabbinic figure in the academic fields of philosophy and Jewish studies. This dissertation will argue that Schneersohn is deserving of scholarly attention, not merely as an interesting contributor to the field of modern Jewish thought, but as a relevant interlocutor with some of the central concerns of contemporary philosophy, and someone who surprisingly anticipates many prominent dynamics of twentieth century thought. This dissertation will perform a close reading of Schneersohn's discourses from 1898. A central and dominant theme of these discourses is the disruption of traditional hierarchical binary structures, with a specific focus on the role of speech in knowledge production and the role of women in reproduction. Schneersohn's reconsideration of the significance of speech and women anticipate some of the significant shifts in the philosophy of language and gender in the twentieth century. The challenging of oppositional binaries, with particular emphasis on language and gender, became a central concern of poststructuralist philosophy in the second half of the twentieth century. Schneersohn's ideas will be brought into conversation with three central figures of poststructuralist thought: Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Derrida and Julia Kristeva. I will perform a close reading of a text from each of these thinkers and examine ways in which juxtaposing Schneersohn's conceptual framework with them can be mutually beneficial. Finally, in conclusion, I will reflect on the value of considering Schneersohn as a relevant modern thinker, and on how he can serve as an example of a contemporary rabbinic thinker deserving of scholarly attention within the field of philosophy.
Supervisor: Weiss, Daniel Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: philosophy ; judaism ; hasidism ; poststructuralism ; levinas ; derrida ; kristeva ; schneersohn ; language ; gender