The Doctrine of Interest: Abraham Cahan and the Herbartians

  • Jesse Raber


Abraham Cahan’s self-image as an educator, which encompasses his literary and journalistic careers, is shaped by the “Doctrine of Interest,” a pedagogical theory promoted by the Herbartian movement. Teaching, for Cahan and the Herbartians alike, means making the transition from old ideas to new ones as smooth as possible, changing one’s students (or audience) without challenging them. Cahan’s Yiddish novella Vi Azoy Rafael Na’arizokh Is Gevorn a Sozialist works as a kind of Herbartian bildungsroman in this sense. For all its effectiveness, though, Cahan ultimately finds the Herbartian approach unfulfilling, and he works through this problem in some of his English-language fiction, including “Tzinchadzi of the Catskills” and The Rise of David Levinsky.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jesse Raber
    • 1
  1. 1.School of the Art Institute of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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