An Intellectual Biography of the Writer and Philosopher Susan Taubes (1928–1969). A Study of the Paradigmatic Significance of Her Life and Work in the 20th Century

The intellectual biography of the writer and philosopher Susan Taubes (1928–1969) goes well beyond a simple reconstruction of her life as paradigmatic of 20th-century historical experience. As a Jewish émigré moving between Europe, Israel, and the U.S. and as a female intellectual oscillating between art and academia, her biography demonstrates the inextricable nature of exile and homelessness.

The project draws exclusively on Taubes' literary legacy – her manuscripts, diaries, and letters, which not only document an extraordinary network of intellectual encounters (e.g., S. Sontag, A. Camus, and E. Lévinas) but further illustrate a life and career marked by political violence and permanent transit. The systematic reconstruction of her literary legacy will create a space for debates on topics largely unacquainted with one another, such as figures related to the ›escape to life‹ (Goebel/Weigel) and a ›literature of no fixed abode‹ (Ette).

Previous research on Taubes' legacy has demonstrated the relevance of her work to contemporary issues, not only in regard to the role of religion in modern times but also in terms of questioning concepts of identity and biography. The latter concepts have greatly influenced the direction of this project, which avoids a mere overview of the writer's life in favor of an in-depth illustration of her emotional struggles with loss and foreignness as reflected in her writing. It seeks to explore the complex interactions, interrelations, and intertextuality found in her works and beyond in her personal encounters, individual fate, the writings of contemporary authors, and historical discourses. This study will demonstrate how the complex experiences of the 20th century influenced the production of literary and philosophical works.

A topographical grid of Taubes' known whereabouts forms the basis of the project. Budapest, New York, Jerusalem, Paris – what influences do these cities hold over her intellectual and artistic works? To what extent was her movement between different locations and languages and between her positioning as an artist and a philosopher constitutive of her life’s work? These specific places serve as historical and symbolic contexts for the writer's individual experiences – contexts that open a horizon on which to explore her intellectual contributions, whether she is seeking a sense of belonging despite her ambivalent attitudes towards Jewish tradition, or whether she is challenging the problematic concepts of post-Holocaust and post-World War II identity through her scholarly work or literary writings.

2014–2017 Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) 2014–2018
Head researcher(s): Christina Pareigis


See also:

ZfL project Susan Taubes Edition



Reading at the Literaturhaus Berlin
28 Oct 2016 · 7.30 pm

Susan Taubes: Der letzte Tanz und andere Erzählungen

Literaturhaus Berlin, Fasanenstr. 23, 10719 Berlin, Kaminzimmer

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Lesung und Gespräch u.a. mit Christina Pareigis
31 May 2016 · 7.00 pm

Ins Deutsche übersetzt von … Werner Richter

Literaturhaus Wien, Seidengasse 13, 1070 Wien (Österreich)

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30 Jan 2015 · 1.00 pm

Christina Pareigis: pas sa sosie. Susan Taubes und Susan Sontag: Spuren einer intellektuellen Freundschaft

ICI Kulturlabor Berlin, Christinenstr. 18/19, 10119 Berlin, Haus 8

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