Key Texts in American Jewish Culture

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Which texts are to pivotal that they provide keys to understanding American Jewish culture? The contributors to Key Texts in American Jewish Culture come from a variety of disciplines, including American studies, anthropology, comparative literature, history, music, religious studies, and women’s studies. Each writer provides an analysis of a specific text in art, music, television, literature, homily, liturgy, and 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 and borrow from each other. 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.

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