Beth Wenger, University of Pennsylvania
Tuesday November 13, 4:00 p.m.
Memorial Union (TITU), 800 Langdon Street
This lecture is made possible through the generosity of Stanley and Sandra Kutler.
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In Europe, Jewish men were often characterized as timid, weak, and feminized—a portrayal that underscored their inferior status and powerlessness. The Zionist typology of the “new Jew” directly confronted such prevailing stereotypes and called for a wholesale reinvention of Jewish manhood in the land of Israel. Though with less ideological rigor than their Zionist counterparts, American Jews also suggested that the United States could bring about a metamorphosis in Jewish men. This lecture will consider ways that life in the United States shifted the discussion about American Jewish manhood and masculinity.
About the Speaker
Beth S. Wenger is Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, where she serves as Chair of the History Department and Director of the Jewish Studies Program. Her most recent book is History Lessons: The Creation of American Jewish Heritage (Princeton University Press, 2010). Wenger is also the author of the National Jewish Book Award finalist The Jewish Americans: Three Centuries of Jewish Voices in America (Doubleday, 2007), the companion volume to the 2008 PBS series The Jewish Americans. Her first book New York Jews and the Great Depression: Uncertain Promise (Yale University Press, 1996), was awarded the Salo Baron Prize in Jewish History by the American Academy of Jewish Research. At Penn, she received the 2008 Richard Dunn Award for Distinguished Teaching. Wenger’s co-edited collections include Remembering the Lower East Side: American Jewish Reflections, as well as the museum catalog Encounters with the “Holy Land”: Place, Past, and Future in American Jewish Culture. That catalog received honorable mention as one of the American Library Association’s Exhibition Catalogue Awards for Excellence.
Beth Wenger is Chair of the Academic Council of the American Jewish Historical Society, and serves as historical consultant to the National Museum of American Jewish History and on the academic boards of the Center for Jewish History and the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. She is also a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians and the Association for Jewish Studies. She holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University, M.A.s from Columbia University and The Jewish Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Yale University.