German-Jewish Esotericism: The Case of Meir Wiener's Expressionist Kabbalah

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Abstract

The fact that bizarre intellectual trends and teachings, like occultism, parapsychology, and neopaganism played an important role in modern German culture is thoroughly documented by scholars of German history. Experts on German-Jewish history, however, still tend to describe German-Jewish culture as one formed around the ideals of 'Bildung' and the Enlightenment. As a result, German-Jewish occultism, mysticism, and other non-Enlightenment texts and authors have received relatively little scholarly attention. The present article aims to help correct this bias by introducing a new framework for the study of German-Jewish culture, and by examining an all but forgotten case study: Meir Wiener and his work. After introducing the term 'Western esotericism', developed by scholars of religious studies, the article uses it to explore two of Meir Wiener's strangest and virtually forgotten works. Wiener, it is shown, produced fantastically esoteric works in the context of German expressionism and Kabbalah studies, which better represent their time and place than scholars have thus far acknowledged.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)36-51
Number of pages16
JournalLeo Baeck Institute Yearbook
Volume65
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History

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