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Performing Americanness
Race, Class, and Gender in Modern African-American and Jewish-American Literature
Catherine Rottenberg

Dartmouth College Press
2008 • 192 pp. 26 b&w illus. 6 x 9"
Cultural Studies / Jewish Studies / African-American Studies

$50.00 Hardcover, 978-1-58465-682-1

Performing Americanness is the kind of unprecedented, richly comparative study that significantly changes the nature of the conversation by cogently presenting how African-American and Jewish-American writers of the early twentieth century narrated the critical categories of identity that enlivened their era. . . . Performing Americanness brilliantly succeeds in adding new layers of complexity and insight to previous comparative studies . . . and will likely prove invaluable to scholars and teachers interested in the disparate ways that the constructed and performative nature of race, gender, and class provoked some of the most memorable explorations of belonging and disenfranchisement by African American and Jewish American writers in the wrenching social transformations of the early twentieth century.”—Shofar

A comparative analysis of modern African-American and Jewish-American narratives

In Performing Americanness, Catherine Rottenberg raises important questions about what it means to be American through a wholly original analysis of modern African-American and Jewish-American literature. The book illustrates how the novels of Nella Larsen, James Weldon Johnson, Anzia Yezierska, and Abraham Cahan help us to understand the specific ways that gender, class, race, and ethnicity have regulated the identity formation of African and Jewish Americans, as well as the ways these categories have helped produce and sustain social stratification in the United States more generally. Through the author’s comparative lens, new light is shed on fundamental internal and external conflicts—especially of identity—that took place as both groups sought to move from margin to center by carving out a niche for themselves in mainstream American society.

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"[Performing Americanness] is a rare, if not unprecedented, effort to compare narratives that trace the immigration of Jews to the United States with the 'assimilation' experience of African Americans . . . an erudite, carefully argued, and singular achievement."—Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature, University of California at Berkeley

"This ambitious and theoretically informed work promises to become an invaluable resource for scholars in ethnic studies, African-American studies in particular."—Donald Pease, Avalon Foundation Chair of the Humanities, Dartmouth College

Currently a fellow at the University of Michigan’s Frankel Institute, CATHERINE ROTTENBERG will be an assistant professor in the Foreign Languages and Linguistics and Communications Departments at
Ben-Gurion University in Beer Sheva, Israel, beginning in 2008.

Wed, 20 Jun 2012 10:03:53 -0500