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Karl Kraus, First Modern Media Critic, and Jewish Self-Hatred

The Library, the John B. Hurford ’60 Humanities Center, and the Office of External Relations present a Young Academic Alumni Lecture Series talk by Paul Reitter ’90, Ohio State University entitled “Karl Kraus, First Modern Media Critic, and Jewish Self-Hatred.”

In turn-of-the-century Vienna, Karl Kraus created a bold new style of media criticism, penning incisive satires that elicited both outrage and admiration. Kraus’ spectacularly hostile critiques of the emerging mass press often focused on his fellow Jewish journalists, and thus he gained a reputation for being the quintessential self-hating Jew. At the same time, however, several of the most influential commentators on German-Jewish culture--for example, Franz Kafka and Gershom Scholem--saw Kraus as an “arch Jew” who authored the most profoundly Jewish writing in the German language. All of which leaves us with the questions: Who's right? Was Kraus a self-hater or a great Jew? Or did he somehow manage to be both things? And does it still make sense to think about Kraus in such terms? Paul Reitter’s talk will offer answers to these questions, as well as some ideas as to why this debate about Kraus matters in the here and now.

Founders Green on a warm spring day.

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