Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Author Warren Hoffman: "The Passing Game: Queering Jewish American Culture"

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The Passing Game by Warren Hoffman                             
Tony Kushner’s award-winning epic play Angels in America was remarkable not only for its sensitive engagement of Jewish- American and gay culture but also for bringing these themes to a mainstream audience. While the play represented a watershed in American theater and culture, it belies a hundred years of previous attention to queer Jewish identity in twentieth-century American literature, drama, and film.

In The Passing Game, Warren Hoffman sheds light on this long history, taking up both Yiddish and English narratives that explore the tensions among Jewish identity, queer sexuality, performance, and American citizenship. With fresh insight Hoffman examines the 1907 Yiddish play God of Vengeance by Sholem Asch, the cross-dressing films of Yiddish actress Molly Picon, and several short stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer. 
He also analyzes the English-language novels The Rise of David Levinsky (Abraham Cahan), Wasteland (Jo Sinclair), and Portnoy’s Complaint (Phillip Roth). Hoffman highlights the ways in which the characters in these canonical texts attempt to "pass" as white, straight, and American in the early and mid–twentieth century. This pioneering work is a welcome contribution to the study of Jewish American literature and culture.
Reviews found Below: 
  •  Chosen as one of the Best Books of 2009 by The Forward
  • "His probing readings not only bring fresh insights to these works, but also invite readers to rethink how gender and sexuality are engaged, even as they are disguised or obscured, in modern Jewish culture generally." -- Jeffrey Shandler, author of Adventures in Yiddishland 
  • "While Jewish-American culture of the late 20th century often rejected (or merely ignored) LGBT culture, according to Warren Hoffman the first half of the century was more forgiving. In his new book...[Hoffman] explores queer Jewish identity in 20th century American literature, drama and film." --Philadelphia Gay News
  • "Hoffman has written a wonderful book that asks important questions about assimilation, identity, gender, and the queering of the Jewish American experience. He digs deeply into the texts and comes up with hiidden truths that are finally brought into the light." -The Gay & Lesbian Review 
  • "A great read for anyone examining Jewish work on page, stage or screen in America - or anyone who ever wondered, deep down, if there wasn't something just a bit...queer about Jewish culture in America." --Lilith Magazine
  • "This book is highly recommended for scholarly collections, and will also find an audience in public, community, and synagogue libraries serving GLBT patrons."--Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter 
What's New
October 2012: Rutgers University Press will be publishing my new book The Great White Way: Race and the Broadway Musical.  Should be in bookstores in about a year!

September 2012: I was named a "Core Playwright" for InterAct Theater Company for 2012-13.  Click here to read more about it.

May 15: I was just named the "new wave" of Jewish arts and culture in Philadelphia by the Jewish Exponent.  
Click here to read more.

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