The Comic Jewish Shaping of Modern America
Examines the mid-century flourishing of comedy and satire—including that found in writing, performing, filmmaking, and songwriting—produced by children of modern Jewish immigrants
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The comedic work of the children of modern Jewish immigrants overturned the prevailing languages and imageries with which an Anglocentric United States had traditionally represented and expanded itself. In ^IGravity Fails: The Comic Jewish Shaping of Modern America^R, James D. Bloom approaches these developments by first surveying this transformation as it affected literature, entertainment, commerce, and politics, and then offers sharply focused chapters that look at changes in sexual candor, reactions to the Holocaust, and critiques of race.
Indeed, the personae discussed here pioneered unprecedented candor toward and scrutiny about sex and violence, and no other book delves as deeply or as widely among art forms, media, and levels of cultural hierarchy. Including considerations of the work of such diverse artists as Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Lenny Bruce, Gilda Radner, Philip Roth, Jerry Seinfeld, and Stephen Sondheim, Gravity Fails provides a unique, penetrating, and hilarious look at a major force in the progress of American culture.
- Table of Contents
Chutzpah in the Promised Land: An Overture
The Revolt of the Horny
Talking Heads Shrinking Heads
A Blonder Shade of Dark
Lost Tribes: A Conclusion
This energetic study examines how funny Jews have shaped not just American entertainment but commerce, visual arts, science, sex, and history. Jewish iconoclasm and the counterlogic of Jewish funniness reshaped mid-century American culture, from advertising upward....To a well-tilled field Bloom contributes fresh ideas of wide-ranging insight and stimulation. Highly recommended. All collections.
[B]loom has written a book for specialists and for those who already know much about the subject. As such it is an excellent and also well-indexed book and will be an encyclopaedic work of reference for those who wish to locate, say, Lenny Bruce or Nathanael West, Philip Roth or Phil Silvers (Sergeant Bilko) in their own times, in relation to their contemporaries and in relation to the by now revered tradition of Jewish humor in America.
[I]t is hard not to be impressed by Bloom's insights--and, yes, with his breadth of subject matter....Recommended.
[D]elves into the transformative role of pioneering Jewish comedians and artists is shaping Americans' self-representations in the twentieth century....Bloom describes how Jewish comedy affected entertainment, commerce, politics, art, science, and the discourses of race, sex, and history in America.
James Bloom has tackled a fascinating and difficult subject.