“Below the Line” is a collaborative project that makes the feuilleton and its many connections to modern Jewish cultures accessible to scholars, students, educators, and the general public.
We seek to raise awareness of the importance of the feuilleton as a historical form of media with contemporary implications. Many people have never heard of feuilletons, even though they were one of the most popular sections of nineteenth and early twentieth century newspapers. Scholars often work with feuilletons without thinking much about the form and its historical context. But reading feuilletons, and specifically feuilletons that are related to Jews and Jewishness, shows us lively political and cultural debates, brings to life urban scenes from around the world, and takes on major issues such as antisemitism, modernization, intermarriage, race, and many more.
As you can see from the feuilletons in our digital collection, the feuilleton transcends regional, national, religious, and linguistic borders. We have brought together scholars from different disciplines, languages, and cultures to work together to explore the breadth and the depth of Jewish feuilletons. Building on our discussions from conferences and workshops since 2017, project participants have helped select the feuilletons that are featured on our website, translated them into English, and provided short commentaries to give a sense of their historical and cultural contexts.
This website provides a collection of feuilletons that relate to Jews, Jewishness and/or Jewish cultures, but it is far from comprehensive. There are an enormous number of feuilletons that could be included. We have invited scholars who have been involved in our conferences and workshops to nominate texts that show the diversity of Jewish feuilletons: different languages, different geographical locations, different historical time periods, different types of feuilletons. We plan to continue to add to this collection in the coming years.
Why are there so few women among the feuilleton writers on this site?
In many of the languages that are included in this site, there were significant barriers for women who wished to publish in the newspaper, whether as journalists or feuilleton writers. In some languages, such as Hebrew, relatively few women were given the education and access to the language in the nineteenth century. In others, such as Yiddish and Russian, the press was dominated by male editors, journalists, and writers well into the twentieth century. One of our goals as we continue to develop this website and its digital collection is to identify and highlight the feuilletons of women writers from different languages.
Which names are real and which names are pseudonyms?
Many writers signed their feuilletons with pseudonyms or initials. For some, a pseudonym was part of the narratorial voice they cultivated in the feuilleton. For others, a pseudonym was a way to differente feuilleton writing from other literary or political works. We have tried to clearly indicate pseudonyms and writer’s names in the metadata. When the pseudonym field is included, that means that this text was published under the given pseudonym. When the pseudonym field does not appear, the text was published under the writer’s full name.
What about feuilletons in other languages?
This site currently features feuilletons in Dutch, English, French, German, Hebrew, Judeo-Arabic, Polish, Russian, and Yiddish. We plan to expand the website to include other languages, since Jewish feuilletons were a global phenomenon.
Where did the original images come from?
Our contributors have provided us with original images of feuilletons from a variety of different sources. Many of these texts come from digitized historical newspapers that are now available online, thanks to initiatives like the Historical Jewish Press project and Compact Memory. Others come from archives and microfilm, thanks to our project contributors. As you’ll see, some of these feuilletons are not yet available in their original publication in the newspapers and are reproduced here from anthologies or other print collections. We are working on getting images from the periodicals when possible.
Who owns the rights to these texts?
If you believe that there is an error in the information contained on this website, or in case of any concern of copyright infringement in connection with any item, please contact us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I contribute a feuilleton to the website?
We welcome submissions of feuilletons that relate to Jews, Jewishness, and Jewish cultures. If you have a text you would like to see included as part of our digital collection, please complete this form and we will get back to you. You are also welcome to contact us at email@example.com with questions or comments.
About this website
How do I navigate the website?
The core of this website is feuilleton texts, along with their English translations, commentaries, and metadata. You can access this material by selecting ‘Explore Feuilletons,’ where you can browse and search the digitized texts. To learn more about feuilletons, take a look at the ‘What is a Feuilleton’ page, which provides basic information about this media phenomenon. And to learn more about this project, its contributors, and its supporters, see the ‘About Us’ section.
Can I search the feuilletons on this website?
Currently you can search the metadata for all feuilletons (authors, periodical, dates, keywords and more) and the short abstracts that accompany each commentary. Please note that the site relies on basic search terms. That means if you are interested in immigration, you may wish to search for “immigration,” “immigrant,” and “immigrants,” which will yield different results. In the future, we plan to add greater searchability.
Our work on the feuilleton is a collaborative effort that benefits from the expertise and perspectives of the contributors to this website as well as colleagues who have participated in our conferences and workshops.
Naomi Brenner is Associate Professor of Hebrew and Jewish Culture at The Ohio State University. Her work focuses on multilingualism, circulation and translation in modern Jewish literatures and cultures. Her first book, Lingering Bilingualism: Modern Hebrew and Yiddish Literatures in Contact (Syracuse University Press, 2016) examines the continued contacts between Yiddish and Hebrew literary texts during the first half of the twentieth century. She has also published a variety of articles on translation, women’s writing, and intersections between Hebrew and Yiddish. Her current project examines the emergence of popular fiction in Jewish literatures. She became interested in the feuilleton as a key site for popular fiction, as Jewish-language periodicals imitated and translated popular European roman-feuilletons during the second half of the nineteenth century.
Matthew Handelman is Associate Professor of German and a member of the Core Faculty in the Digital Humanities at Michigan State University. His research interests include German-Jewish literature and philosophy in the early twentieth century, the intersections of science, mathematics and culture in German-speaking countries, as well as the digital humanities and the history of technology. His first book, The Mathematical Imagination: On the Origins and Promise of Critical Theory appeared with Fordham University Press in 2019. It explores the underdeveloped possibilities of mathematics for critical theory, focusing on how mathematics helped Gershom Scholem, Franz Rosenzweig, and Siegfried Kracauer navigate the intellectual crises facing German Jews during the Weimar Republic. He has worked extensively on the feuilleton of the Frankfurter Zeitung as a forum that shaped German-Jewish intellectual identity. He is currently interested in the technological aspects of the feuilleton as a means of shaping politics and aesthetics in early 1930s Germany.
Shachar Pinsker is a Professor of Judaic Studies and Middle East Studies at the University of Michigan. He held visiting professor positions at Harvard, Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion, and the Hebrew University. He is the author of A Rich Brew: How Cafés Created Modern Jewish Culture (NYU Press, 2018), a finalist for the 2018 Jewish Book Award, and of Literary Passports: The Making of Modernist Hebrew Fiction in Europe (Stanford University Press, 2011), the winner of the 2011 Jordan Schnitzer Book Award from the Association for Jewish Studies. He is the editor of Women’s Hebrew Poetry on American Shores (Wayne State University Press, 2016), Where the Sky and the Sea Meet: Israeli Yiddish Stories (Magnes Press, forthcoming), and the co-editor of Hebrew, Gender, and Modernity (University of Maryland Press, 2007). He is currently writing a book on Yiddish in Israeli literature. His articles appeared in journals such as Jewish Social Studies, Prooftexts, and Poetics Today.
Nine scholars from different disciplines and languages analyzed the feuilleton as a critical space for Jewish political debate, social commentary, and literary innovation in a session held as part of the Association for Jewish Studies annual conference. Participants explored the feuilleton as the emerging forum for Kulturpolitik, cultural politics, in German, Hebrew, Russian, and Yiddish.
Our first online workshop brought together two scholars working on translation and multilingual feuilleton texts, one focusing on the American press in New York and the other on the Hebrew press in Palestine.
With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, this conference welcomed twenty scholars based in Israel, Europe, and the United States to explore the histories and forms of the feuilleton.
Our first gathering convened ten scholars to discuss the feuilleton and its connections to Jews, Jewishness and Jewish culture. This gathering demonstrated the broad interest in the topic and the need to expand conversations about the feuilleton.
This website has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Our work on the feuilleton has flourished thanks to the support of the American Academy for Jewish Research, the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan, the Melton Center for Jewish Studies at The Ohio State University and the College of Arts & Letters and DH@MSU at Michigan State University. Many of the scholars who have contributed texts, translations and commentaries to this website have also taken part in conferences and workshops that we have sponsored since 2017.
We would like to thank the Historical Jewish Press and Compact Memory for their support of this project. We are also grateful for ongoing support and assistance from the University of Michigan LSA Technology Services.