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Document Type:Latin Dissertation
Language of Document:English
Record Number:53765
Doc. No:TL23719
Call number:‭3330351‬
Main Entry:Josh Perelman
Title & Author:Choreographing identity: Modern dance and American Jewish life, 1924--1954Josh Perelman
College:New York University
Date:2008
Degree:Ph.D.
student score:2008
Page No:344
Abstract:When Congress passed the 1924 Johnson-Reed Act, it brought a dramatic halt to the era of mass migration that had begun over forty years before. For the American-born children of Jewish immigrants who came of age in the turbulent decades that followed, this shift in policy hastened their efforts to integrate into American society at the same time that it pointed to the serious challenges that they confronted. But social prejudices represented just one impediment to inclusion. Jews' efforts to figure out and explain to other Americans what it meant to be a Jew in the United States coincided with America's most serious economic crisis and the rise of Nazism in Europe, cataclysmic events that compounded the difficulty, and the necessity, of their efforts. Examining a remarkable group of American Jewish modern dancers living and working in New York City between 1924 and 1954, the tercentenary celebration of Jewish settlement in North America, this dissertation provides a vivid illustration of how immigrants' children established themselves as Americans. To the mostly female dancers featured here, modern dance offered the rare opportunity to communicate with authority about politics, identity, and sexuality unconstrained by existing gender conventions. Charting their participation in this revolutionary new performance medium provides a lens into this crucial generation efforts to bridge Jewish heritage and American aspirations. Determined to achieve inclusion, American Jewish modern dancers felt a powerful attraction to the cosmopolitan universalism that lay at the heart of both modern dance and interwar radicalism. The Popular Front emerged as a hotbed for cultural activism, and many Jewish dancers viewed its populism as an essential tool for transforming ethnic difference from a marginalizing force into a principal feature of American democracy. Although many dancers confronted fascism as a threat to democracy, few addressed it as a Jewish emergency, hesitant to undermine the strength of their appeal for integration. The consequence of a complex negotiation for acceptance, such compromising recurred throughout the interwar years. The decimation of European Jewry, however, propelled the Jewish dancers featured here to reevaluate what integration meant and begin publicly exploring the meaning of their Jewishness.
Subject:Communication and the arts; Social sciences; American Jews; Jewish; Identity; Dance; Great Depression; Communism; Race; American history; Judaic studies; 0751:Judaic studies; 0337:American history; 0378:Dance
Added Entry:H. Diner
Added Entry:New York University