AdvisorLevitt, Laura, 1960-
Committee memberAlpert, Rebecca T. (Rebecca Trachtenberg), 1950-
Gran, Peter, 1941-
Permanent link to this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12613/1567
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AbstractThis project explores how and why an Americanized form of Zionism became an effective movement in American Jewish life. In the quest for a just and lasting resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, most scholarly attention has been focused on the state (and people) of Israel and the people of Palestine, and their efforts to resolve the conflict that has held them in its grip over the past century. As a result, we have focused too little attention on the role of support for U.S. nationalism in the American Jewish community in sustaining the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I argue likewise that a critical juncture in this process occurred in the early twentieth century, as the United States emerged as an international power. American Jewish support for Zionism overlaps in many ways with Progressivism. Many of the early leaders of Americanized Zionism, such as Horace M. Kallen and Justice Louis Brandeis, began their careers as Progressive reformers and brought their ideas about social and political action with them into the Zionist movement. Brandeis in particular played a critical role in making Zionism acceptable to American Jews, in no small part by asserting that the Zionism he advocated was required no commitment to emigration. As this Americanized version of Zionism has become normalized in American Jewish life, the principle of Jewish sovereignty has become widely understood among American Jews to be an essential guarantor of Jewish safety. To understand the roots and implications of this stance, I explore the genealogy of the idea of sovereignty, as well as the binary opposition of “Arabs” and “Jews” in Euro-American thought. Americanized Zionism, I conclude, is less a product of Jewish ethnicity or religion than enactment of a commitment to U.S. nationalism as a fundamental aspect of American Jewish identity.
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(Re)conceptualizing Intellectual Histories of Africana Studies: Preliminary ConsiderationsNorment, Nathaniel; Carr, Greg (Greg E.); Carr, Greg (Greg E.) (Temple University. Libraries, 2011)The overarching objective of this thesis outlines the preliminary rationale for the development of a comprehensive review of the sources that seek to understand disciplinarity, Africana Studies, and Africana intellectual histories. It is the conceptual overlay for an extended work that will eventually offer a (re)conceptualization of Africana Studies intellectual genealogies.
THE JEWISH ANIMAL IN POST-HOLOCAUST JEWISH AMERICAN POETRYOrvell, Miles; Lee, Sue-Im; Levitt, Laura; Ostriker, Alicia S. (Temple University. Libraries, 2020)By the time anti-Jewish Nazi propaganda was widely analogizing Jews to rodents and other nonhuman animals in need of extermination, the accusation that Jewish people might be subhuman, or nonhuman, had been informing non-Jewish perceptions of the Jewish people for hundreds of years. As Jay Geller has detailed, casting Jews as lone wolves, or as rats or mice (and beyond), has a long and powerful history. Indeed, this insidious maneuver—dehumanize a threatening community through animalization in order to justify its oppression, or at times, extermination—is familiar to virtually every marginalized community and absolutely relies on consensus that the “natural” order places human beings above animals. This dissertation argues that post-Holocaust, Jewish American poets help us reconsider the boundaries of “human” and “animal” in the American imagination, ultimately creating an animal poetics that flips the script, demonstrating that yes, we are all animals, which demands not only a human commitment to justice and respect between cultures but also to ecological justice and respect between species. Through examining prominent animal poems by three Jewish American post-Holocaust poets, Gerald Stern, Adrienne Rich, and Maxine Kumin, this dissertation asks, “What does it mean to behave like a Jew when it comes to our ecological connections to other animal species?” and, more specifically, “What is the connection between post-Holocaust Jewish American poets, ecologically informed animal representation, and Jewishness?” My readings model a novel approach to these poets’ work by using Jewish traditions, such as teshuvah (an atonement ritual) and biblical prophecy, to illuminate layers of meaning in the poems that might otherwise have stayed shadowed, particularly for readers without ready access to a Jewish framework. Because these poets’ animal poems are best read as both ecological as well as Jewish, this dissertation makes a case for including animal poems by Stern, Rich, and Kumin in the syllabi and anthologies that represent American ecological literature and ecopoetry—and not just including them, in fact, but contextualizing them within a Jewish framework. All three poets suggest that behaving like a Jew, when it comes to nonhuman animals, means taking responsibility for our brutal humanity as well as our essential animality—which is at least as often noble and good as it is otherwise. By highlighting the value of a Jewish ecocritical lens, this dissertation suggests that there may be as many culturally situated versions of ecocriticism as there are cultures, which could increase our appreciation of our interconnection within and beyond our species. Further, by bringing a Jewish lens to these three Jewish poets’ animal poems, this dissertation situates Jewish animality specifically as a source of strength and wisdom. In so doing, this project defiantly counters millennia of efforts to dehumanize Jewish people, instead reminding that all human beings’ ability to thrive on this earth requires mutual respect between, and within, animal species. Ultimately, this dissertation argues that these Jewish American poets, who came into their adulthood and poetic expressions in the shadow of the Nazi Holocaust, light the way to a Jewish—and human—animal whose survival will not depend on random birthplace but on the dignifying interconnection of all animal species, and all the varieties therein.
From Buddy Film to Bromance: Masculinity and Male Melodrama Since 1969Orvell, Miles; Melzer, Patricia, 1970-; Gaycken, Oliver; Levitt, Laura, 1960- (Temple University. Libraries, 2014)Men's tears are considered rare, and women's tears are considered profusive. Thus, we tend to think of tearjerkers and melodrama as the province of weepy women viewers. However, if we look back at the last several decades of Hollywood filmmaking, melodramas focused on men--or "male weepies"--have been a steady staple of American cinema. This dissertation explores cycles of male melodramas since 1969, placing them in their socio-historical contexts and examining the ways that they participate in public discourses about men, masculinity, and gender roles. Melodrama's focus on victims, bids for virtue, and idealizations of not how things are, but how they should be, have made it a fitting and flexible mode for responding to the changing social landscape of America since the rights movements of the 1960s. Specifically, these films consider both the ways that white capitalist patriarchy has circumscribed the public and private lives of men and the ways that advancements of women and racial minorities are impacting (white) men's lives. This study analyzes the rhetorical effects of these films through both textual evidence and popular reception. Chapters are organized by chronology and subgenre, discussing buddy films of the late 1960s and early 1970s (Midnight Cowboy, The Last Detail, and Scarecrow), paternal melodramas of the late 1970s and early 1980s (The Great Santini, Kramer vs. Kramer, and Table for Five), films of sensitive men in the early 1990s (The Prince of Tides, Regarding Henry, and Philadelphia), and black male weepies from the 1990s and 2000s (Boyz in the Hood, Antwone Fisher, John Q, and The Pursuit of Happyness). The epilogue also considers the developing genre of the bromance, a hybrid of melodrama and comedy. By classifying and analyzing these films as male melodramas, this dissertation challenges both the popular denigrating view that tearjerkers are "chick flicks," and the continued gender bifurcation within film studies' work on melodrama as a narrative mode, which tends to treat weepies as a female form of melodrama and action films as a male form of melodrama. While individual subgenres have received some critical attention, this dissertation is one of the first works to look at male weepies collectively. Putting the spotlight on male weepies reveals Hollywood's interest in gender and the emotional lives of men, though the films display a mix of progressive and conservative strains, often common in Hollywood filmmaking. Specifically, these weepies tend to question and often even reject traditional masculine ideals, and thus exhibit some forms of gender "liberation"; at the same time that they show men suffering under patriarchy and even the pressure to be powerful, these films also shore that power up for men by never forfeiting it. As such, these films reveal the dangers of Hollywood "doing" gender critique: however inadvertently, they contain feminist, anti-racist, and anti-homophobic challenges and re-inscribe the various privileges of characters (in terms of gender, race, sexuality, and often class). However, the films also dramatize the ability of people to change and to empathize with others, and often invite the viewer to do so, even across gender and racial lines. In this way, male melodramas reveal a complex response to social changes; they are marked by an interest in men changing and a more equitable society, even as fully giving up privilege seems difficult.