From the shtetl to 42nd Street : nostalgia and postmemory in Jewish American musicals, 1961-today by Jessica Hillman-McCord.
This dissertation examines the types of nostalgia circulating in Jewish themed musicals as a result of the complex and intersecting trends of Holocaust "postmemory" and Jewish secularization. How might musical theatre distort or magnify Jewish heritage and history in the service of nostalgia? How have members of the Post-Holocaust, and thus "postmemory" generation of American Jews, engaged with these projects, and how have these musicals positioned themselves to address their audiences? My project, through close readings of six Jewish themed musicals that emerged in the second half of the century, will study the role and mechanism of musical theatre in remembering and thus defining American Jewishness for both the community itself and the wider world.Each case study explores slightly different sites for Jewish nostalgia: Milk and Honey contains restorative nostalgia for an ancient homeland. Fiddler on the Roof creates nostalgia for the "Old World" of the pre-Holocaust Eastern European shtetl. The Rothschilds generates nostalgia for the close Jewish family through a post-Holocaust slant, thereby creating a nostalgic dissonance. Ragtime and Rags produce nostalgia for the turn of the century immigrant community of the Lower East Side of New York City. The Producers takes a transgressive comic tone towards the events of WWII and the Holocaust, and creates intertextual nostalgia, both for its original film, and for the "golden age" musical theatre it glorifies and satirizes simultaneously. These shows transport us back in time to the "good old days," in Europe, in the shtetl, on the Lower East Side, even on Broadway itself. We need to examine the causes for this journey, as well as the musicals means for bringing us there.
Record last modified: 2018-05-18 16:19:00
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