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Unheroic Conduct: The Rise of Heterosexuality and the Invention of the Jewish Man

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  55 ratings  ·  6 reviews
In a book that will both enlighten and provoke, Daniel Boyarin offers an alternative to the prevailing Euroamerican warrior/patriarch model of masculinity and recovers the Jewish ideal of the gentle, receptive male. The Western notion of the aggressive, sexually dominant male and the passive female reaches back through Freud to Roman times, but as Boyarin makes clear, such ...more
Paperback, 433 pages
Published June 13th 1997 by University of California Press (first published May 14th 1997)
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Sep 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
I’m not a fan of Freud, to put it mildly ... so I'm reluctant to give the book 5 stars because of the lengthy chapters on psychoanalysis and Freud’s odd theories. A point in Boyarin’s favour is that he, while not exactly pulling Freud’s work to pieces, points to his - partly hidden - misogyny, homophobia and internalised antisemitism. And most importantly, he dismantles the Oedipus complex. (No, I just can't take this theory seriously.)

Apart from this "Freudian overdose", it’s quite an insightf
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology, religion
The principal thesis of the book is that the social and gender roles and ideals of Jewish Europeans differed from those of Christian Europeans, with male gender roles in Jewish society less idealizing of strength and power and more idealizing of intellectual activity. This led to the rejection of the latter by some modernizing fin-de-siècle Jews and their movements, e.g., Herzl and Zionism, and Freud and psychoanalysis. Boyarin takes as his hero, Bertha Papenheim, otherwise known as Anna O., Bre ...more
Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for-school, judaism, lgbt
An incredible and enlightening book with so much insight into Judaism, sexuality, gender, and the ways in which they overlap. Boyarin articulates a reality that has frustrated me for quite some time — the unfortunate dismissal and erasure of Judaism in conversations about gender and queerness in the "secular" world paired with the blatant sexism and homophobia rampant in much of the Jewish community. While Boyarin spectacularly frames these incredibly nuanced conversations, I must say I am disap ...more
Jul 12, 2020 added it
Shelves: 21st-century, judaism
There's a reason that, from academia's perspective, there's a certain amount of question about what Boyarin IS, in terms of discipline, because he's somehow always exceeding the boundaries of what one would think a field is.
It's not a critique, by any means, but it is an invitation to think about his writing as straddling the Talmudic, historical, literary, and confessional.
Which is appealing (you mean you can DO that? Yeah, when you're Daniel Boyarin.)
In terms of content - his reading of edelka
Nate Merrill
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I didn't get any of the Freud stuff, but some of it was made clear through the comparison to Herzl, which was very good. Boyarin balances the self hating aspects of zionism with the ostensibly liberatory aspects of it is a way that seems very applicable today, especially as he tries to balance the current state of Judaism with what he wishes it could be (feminist, non-patriarchal, etc). Can this model of Jewish masculinity be rebuilt after centuries of assimilation - not just into non traditiona ...more
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jewish
There are some brilliant readings in here, but at times I was a bit confused on the relevance of certain sections to his main point, though I suppose that everything was at least somewhat connected. I think as well that a failing of the book is to bring in the perspectives of modern biology and psychology. To read the symptoms of Bertha Pappenheimer's "hysteria" as a result of her feminist feelings seem slightly implausible to me. Though I do take some comfort in that Boyarin, like myself, seems ...more
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