Key Texts in American Jewish Culture / Edition 1

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Key Texts in American Jewish Culture expands the frame of reference used by students of culture and history both by widening the "canon" of Jewish texts and by providing a way to extrapolate new meanings from well-known sources.

Contributors come from a variety of disciplines, including American studies, anthropology, comparative literature, history, music, religious studies, and women's studies. Each provides an analysis of a specific text in art, music, television, literature, homily, liturgy, or history. Some of the works discussed, such as Philip Roth's novel Counterlife, the musical Fiddler on the Roof, and Irving Howe's World of Our Fathers, are already widely acknowledged components of the American Jewish studies canon. Others-such as Bridget Loves Bernie, infamous for the hostile reception it received among American Jews+ may be considered "key texts" because of the controversy they provoked. Still others, such as Joshua Liebman's Piece of Mind and the radio and TV sitcom The Goldbergs, demonstrate the extent to which American Jewish culture and mainstream American culture intermingle with and borrow from each other.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Although the title is likely to provoke the question of why certain American Jewish cultural texts are considered more essential than others, in his excellent introduction Kugelmass (Holocaust and modern Jewish studies, Arizona State Univ.) makes clear that these essays, emerging from a conference at Arizona State University, are neither representative nor protean texts of American Jewish culture. Instead, this is a collection of diverse scholarly pieces on issues in Jewish American culture as seen through specific examples in a variety of disciplines. For example, we get a glimpse into questions of identity and ethnicity in Jewish American literature ranging from Abraham Cahan's The Rise of David Levinsky to Philip Roth's The Counterlife. American anti-Semitism is analyzed in the films Crossfire and Gentleman's Agreement, and the Jewish mother is seen through the popular television show The Goldbergs. Most fascinating are the essays on the fine arts and music (e.g., a notable essay on Leonard Bernstein's Kaddish symphony). The book's final selections evaluate anthropological, philosophical, and liturgical texts. Though the range of subjects in this volume only begins to scratch the surface of the richness of Jewish American cultural studies today, this book is still a useful addition to research libraries with Jewish studies collections.-Herbert E. Shapiro, Empire State Coll./SUNY, Rochester Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813532219
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Table of Contents

Keys and Canons 3
Eros and Americanization: David Levinsky and the Etiquette of Race 25
The Meanings of Marjorie Morningstar 46
Is It Good for the Jews? The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz 57
Performing Jewish Identity in Philip Roth's Counterlife 75
The Limits of Empathy: Hollywood's Imaging of Jews circa 1947 91
Fiddling with Sholem Aleichem: A History of Fiddler on the Roof 105
"Yesterday's Woman," Today's Moral Guide: Molly Goldberg as Jewish Mother 129
First as Farce, Then as Tragedy: The Unlamented Demise of Bridget Loves Bernie 147
Jewish Universalism: Some Visual Texts and Subtexts 163
"My Own Kaddish": Leonard Bernstein's Symphony No. 3 185
Louis Finkelstein's The Jews: A Mid-Tweniteth-Century Presentation of Judaism 199
Embracing World of Our Fathers: The Context of Reception 210
Peace of Mind (1946): Judaism and the Therapeutic Polemics of Postwar America 225
Kaplan's Key: A Dynamo "in de middle" of the Neighborhood 244
Will Herberg's Protestant-Catholic-Jew: A Critique 258
One Nation, with Liberty and Haggadahs for All 275
Contributors 293
Index 297
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