Books

“An engaging, lively, and important contribution to Jewish film studies.”
—Elyce Rae Helford, author of What Price Hollywood?: Gender and Sex in the Films of George Cukor

“Behind this eminently readable survey of American Jewish film is a very smart intervention. Meyers broadens the well-worn examination of Jews in film to include not just Jewish representations or Jews in the production process. She makes a solid case for adding the Jewish audience as part of the equation for what makes Jewish film Jewish.”
—Steven Carr, author of Hollywood and Anti-Semitism: A Cultural History up to 1941

Movie-Made Jews focuses on a rich, usable American Jewish cinematic tradition. This tradition includes fiction and documentary films that make Jews through antisemitism, Holocaust indirection, and discontent with assimilation. It prominently features the unapologetic assertion of Jewishness, queerness, and alliances across race and religion.

Author Helene Meyers shows that as we go to our local theater, attend a Jewish film festival, play a DVD, watch streaming videos, Jewishness becomes part of the multicultural mosaic rather than collapsing into a generic whiteness or being represented as a life apart. This engagingly-written book demonstrates that a Jewish movie is neither just a movie nor for Jews only.

With incisive analysis, Movie-Made Jews challenges the assumption that American Jewish cinema is a cinema of impoverishment and assimilation. While it’s a truism that Jews make movies, this book brings into focus the diverse ways movies make Jews. 
 

Movie-Made Jews is “a must-read for any Jewish cinephiles.” –Emily Burack, Hey Alma

“A significant and lively testament to the vitality of American Jewish cinema and its relationship to Jewish life in America.”
—David Desser, co-author of American Jewish Filmmakers


“This is a sophisticated, nuanced critical study of contemporary Jewish (American) literature … Taking an anthropological approach to Jewish and Judaic cultural expression, Meyers provides probing, subtle analyses … Highly recommended.” —CHOICE

“Ultimately, Meyers offers not only nuanced readings of many texts, but also a cogent argument about the generative possibilities for American Jewish futurity through an undoing of what constitutes normative understandings of Jewish bodies, families, and relationships.” — Journal of Jewish Identities

Argues that debates about Jewish identity and assimilation are signs of creative potential rather than crisis.

Identity Papers argues that contemporary Jewish American literature revises our understanding of Jewishness and Jewish difference. Moving beyond the reductive labeling of texts and authors as “too Jewish” or “not Jewish enough,” and focusing instead on narratives that portray Jewish regeneration through feminist Orthodoxy, queerness, off-whiteness, and intermarriage, Helene Meyers resists a lachrymose view of contemporary Jewish American life. She argues that such gendered, sexed, and raced debates about Jewish identity become opportunities rather than crises, signs of creative potential rather than symptoms of assimilation and deracination. Thus, feminist debates within Orthodoxy are allied to Jewish continuity by Rebecca Goldstein, Allegra Goodman, and Tova Mirvis; the geography of Jewish identity is racialized by Alfred Uhry, Tony Kushner, and Philip Roth; and the works of Jyl Lynn Felman, Judith Katz, Lev Raphael, and Michael Lowenthal queer the Jewish family as they reveal homophobia to be an abomination. Even as Identity Papers expands Jewish literary horizons and offers much-needed alternatives to the culture wars between liberal and traditional Jews, it argues that Jewish difference productively troubles dominant narratives of feminist, queer, and whiteness studies. Meyers demonstrates that the evolving Jewish American literary renaissance is anything but provincial; rather, it is engaged with categories of difference central to contemporary academic discourses and our national life.

Identity Papers is an important, thoughtful text that will appeal to those with an interest in postmodern inquiries into multiculturalism, identity theory, and selfhood.” — MELUS

The world of Michael Chabon comes alive in the first full-length, analytical guide devoted to this brilliantly creative writer.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon is considered one of the most distinguished contemporary American novelists. Reading Michael Chabon, the first full-length volume on the writer, views his career as bridging the gap between literary and popular culture. Designed for book club members and high school and college students, this reference guide will help readers keep track of Chabon’s intricate plots and draw thematic connections between and among his major novels. It will also help them understand his fiction as cultural commentary on contemporary masculinity and Jewish identity.

The book treats both Chabon’s life and work, including film adaptations of his novels, his love affair with comics, and his forays into detective and adventure fiction. A chapter is dedicated to each of his major novels, including Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Wonder Boys, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.

Argues that contemporary female Gothic novels of death can, in fact, breathe new life into feminist debates about victimization, essentialism, agency, and the body.

In Femicidal Fears,
Helene Meyers examines contemporary femicidal plots—plots in which women are killed or fear for their lives—to argue that these female Gothic novels of death actually bring the nuances of feminist thought to life. Through her examination of works by Angela Carter, Muriel Spark, Edna O’Brien, Beryl Bainbridge, Joyce Carol Oates, and Margaret Atwood, as well as such infamous cases as the Montreal Massacre and the Yorkshire Ripper, Meyers contends that these femicidal plots restage and embody feminist debates flattened by such glib and automatic phrases as “essentialism” and “victim feminism.” Bringing the Gothic and the quotidian together in discussions of heterosexual romance, the sadomasochistic couple, female paranoia, postfeminism, and images of the female body, the book affirms that refusing victimization may not be a simple story, but it is nevertheless one worth telling.

“The strength of Femicidal Fears lies in Meyers’ development of the analogy between compulsory heterosexuality and Gothic narratives. It also lies in the fact that Meyers—like Foucault, Butler, and other social constructionists—seeks to historicize the social networks of power that legitimize the heterosexual romance and female victimization.” — Gothic Studies

“…offers an eloquent and often witty argument for the importance of the Gothic tradition in the work of contemporary women writers who are concerned about continuing problems for women in the remnants of patriarchy. (Indeed, patriarchy is still alive and well.) A valuable contribution.” — Anne Williams, author of Art of Darkness: A Poetics of Gothic

“An interesting, readable, and original contribution to the fields of women’s literature, contemporary literature, Gothic literature, and feminist theory. Femicidal Fears is full of insightful readings of individual texts and of the connections among them; at the same time, the overview it provides is illuminating, artfully constructed, and provocative.” — Eugenia C. DeLamotte, author of Perils of the Night: A Feminist Study of Nineteenth-Century Gothic