Jewish Studies | American Jewish Cinema
J303 | 29809-29810 | P. Gluck


Caught In The Act: Jews and the Formation of the American Dream in
Narrative Cinema Course

TR 5:30-6:45
T 7:00-10:00 p.m. Film Screenings

In this course, we will explore quintessentially American media
created by Jews, as well as serious representations of Jewish
identity in mainstream cinema. Using a historical perspective, we
will analyze these cinematic representations in relation to American
Jewish history, anti-Semitism, Jewish mobility and immigration
through the course of the twentieth century. We will explore the
fascinating phenomenon of how Jews have defined themselves and
the “American dream” in front of and behind the camera: Various
filmmakers, actors, and producers kept their Jewish identity hidden
in the celluloid closet, while others used film to express
an “ethnic pride.” Through weekly screenings, readings, and
discussion we will look at the identity continuum of Jews in
American media, from Molly Picon to Sarah Silverman, Eddie Cantor to
Ali G, and Carl Laemmle to Steven Spielberg.

Films include:
East and West, The Jazz Singer, Cast A Giant Shadow, Gentleman’s
Agreement, The Pawnbroker, Annie Hall, and For Your Consideration.

Selected Readings From:
Antler, Joyce. Talking Back: Images of Jewish Women In Popular
Culture.
Bartov, Omer. The “Jew” in Cinema.
Carringer, Robert. The Jazz Singer. University of Wisconsin. 1979.
Cohen, Sarah Blacher. From Hester Street to Hollywood. Indiana
University Press. 1986.
Desser, David and Friedman, Lester. 1993. American-Jewish
Filmmakers:
Traditions and Trends.
Gabler, Neil. An Empire of Their Own.
Hertzberg, Arthur. The Jews in America.
Hoberman, J., and Jeffrey Shandler. 2003. Entertaining America:
Jews, Movies and Broadcasting. Princeton University Press.
Moor, Deborah. At Home In America.
Prell, Riv Ellen. Fighting to Become Americans: Assimilation and The
Trouble Between Jewish Men and Jewish Women. 2000. Beacon Press.
Rivo, Sharon Pucker. “Projected Images: Portraits of Jewish Women in
Early American Film”.
Sachar, Howard M. The Course of Modern Jewish History, Random House.
1990.
Shohat, Ella. “Unthinking Eurocentrism” 1994. Routledge.
Whitfield, Steven J. American Space. Jewish Time. 1988. Archon Books.

Particulars: Requirements for the course include class
participation, an in-class presentation, regular short film reviews,
and a final paper.