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"Unhampered child of liberty": Modernity, representation and American Jewish women, 1890-1930.

Author: Deborah Fairman; Jules Chametzky; University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Dissertation: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Massachusetts Amherst, 1998.
Edition/Format:   Thesis/dissertation : Thesis/dissertation : Manuscript   Archival Material : EnglishView all editions and formats
Publication:Dissertation Abstracts International, 59-02A.
Summary:
In this dissertation I argue that Jewish women have served as cynosures of change in Jewish culture, and American Jewish culture in particular. The-turn-of-the-century representations of Jewish women in America that I have chosen to explore exemplify the paradox of the "unhampered child of liberty"--they were generally portrayed as having unconstrained equality but also described as children, thus implicitly
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Details

Genre/Form: Dissertations
Named Person: Molly Picon; Rosa Sonneschein; Rose Pastor Stokes
Material Type: Thesis/dissertation, Manuscript, Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Archival Material, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Deborah Fairman; Jules Chametzky; University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
ISBN: 9780591758603 0591758601
OCLC Number: 970930146
Language Note: English.
Notes: Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 59-02, Section: A, page: 0529.
Director: Jules Chametzky.
Description: 159 pages.

Abstract:

In this dissertation I argue that Jewish women have served as cynosures of change in Jewish culture, and American Jewish culture in particular. The-turn-of-the-century representations of Jewish women in America that I have chosen to explore exemplify the paradox of the "unhampered child of liberty"--they were generally portrayed as having unconstrained equality but also described as children, thus implicitly reinforcing the child/parent power imbalance, including control over the discourse. The women that I write about, Rosa Sonneschein, Molly Picon, and Rose Pastor Stokes, had some access to the arenas in which the struggle for control over representation could take place. At the same time that these active women had some power to project their messages, however, because those messages advocated change, they were regularly put in the position of transgressing the status quo. They became the literal embodiment of change.

The strategy that I have chosen to illustrate this concept highlights differences within the American Jewish community at the same time that it points out the particular commonalities of identity and change. The first chapter, an analysis of the 1895 magazine The American Jewess, attempts to understand the symbolic process of constructing and representing identity within the Jewish community, especially the liberal Jewish women's community and argues that the discourse moves toward containment. Other chapters, while also concerned with representation in popular texts such as newspapers, biography, and fiction, moves beyond an immediate audience of American Jews to European Jews as well as, in chapter three, American non-Jews.

"Unhampered Child of Liberty" is an attempt to add to the growing scholarship about Jewish American women and representation by attempting to move toward a theory of identity and change in which Jewish American women carry the load of being the subjects around which important discussions of and decisions within both religious and secular Jewish culture turn.

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