Red, Black, and Jew: New Frontiers in Hebrew Literature

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University of Texas Press, Jan 1, 2010 - Literary Criticism - 363 pages

Between 1890 and 1924, more than two million Jewish immigrants landed on America's shores. The story of their integration into American society, as they traversed the difficult path between assimilation and retention of a unique cultural identity, is recorded in many works by American Hebrew writers. Red, Black, and Jew illuminates a unique and often overlooked aspect of these literary achievements, charting the ways in which the Native American and African American creative cultures served as a model for works produced within the minority Jewish community.

Exploring the paradox of Hebrew literature in the United States, in which separateness, and engagement and acculturation, are equally strong impulses, Stephen Katz presents voluminous examples of a process that could ultimately be considered Americanization. Key components of this process, Katz argues, were poems and works of prose fiction written in a way that evoked Native American forms or African American folk songs and hymns. Such Hebrew writings presented America as a unified society that could assimilate all foreign cultures. At no other time in the history of Jews in diaspora have Hebrew writers considered the fate of other minorities to such a degree. Katz also explores the impact of the creation of the state of Israel on this process, a transformation that led to ambivalence in American Hebrew literature as writers were given a choice between two worlds.

Reexamining long-neglected writers across a wide spectrum, Red, Black, and Jew celebrates an important chapter in the history of Hebrew belles lettres.

 

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Contents

INTRODUCTION
1
ENCOUNTERING NATIVE AMERICANS B N SILKINERS MUL OHEL TIMMURA
13
FACING THE SUNSET ISRAEL EFROS ON NATIVE AMERICANS
31
TO BE AS OTHERS E E LISITZKYS REPRESENTATION OF NATIVE AMERICANS
49
FANTASY OR PLAIN FOLK IMAGINING NATIVE AMERICANS
77
CHILDS PLAY HILLEL BAVLIS MRS WOODS AND THE INDIAN IN AMERICAN HEBREW LITERATURE
91
RED HEART BLACK SKIN E E LISITZKYS ENCOUNTERS WITH AFRICAN AMERICAN FOLKSONG AND POETRY
109
FROM PROP TO TROPE TO REAL FOLKS BLACKS IN HEBREW LITERATURE
137
REPRESENTING AFRICAN AMERICANS THE REALISTIC TREND
152
THE LANGUAGE OF ALIENATION THE ANXIETY OF AN AMERICANIZED HEBREW
175
SINGING THE SONG OF ZION AMERICAN HEBREW LITERATURE AND ISRAEL
189
CONCLUSION
222
NOTES
227
BIBLIOGRAPHY
291
INDEX
339
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

STEPHEN KATZ is Professor of Jewish Studies at Indiana University in Bloomington.

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