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Robert Abzug, Director CLA 2.402, 305 E 23rd St B3600, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-475-6178

Christopher Ernst

Lecturer Ph.D., University of Toronto


J S 364 • Jews In American Entertainment

40702 • Spring 2014
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm CAL 21
(also listed as AMS 370, HIS 350R )
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This course explores the vital role played by commercial amusements such as theater, Broadway, radio, television and film in creating American culture.  From the middle of the nineteenth century to the present day, Jews have helped shape this culture of entertainment—and in so doing, profoundly influenced American identity.  Students will examine the representations and performance strategies of Jewish Americans through the lens of public entertainment.  We will focus on how Jews, as actors and actresses, writers and composers, singers and celebrities, producers and directors have negotiated their Jewish identity within the larger society.  Students will gain an understanding of how Jews have used the entertainment industry as a forum for grappling with important questions of American identity. 

Throughout the course, we will read cutting-edge scholarship and analyze compelling primary sources.  Students will become adept at interpreting images, deconstructing texts, evaluating historical evidence and writing historical essays.


Most readings will be available through Blackboard under Course Documents.  Please note that some readings will be links to websites and other material will be accessed online through University of Texas Libraries.



Attendance and class participation   30%

Response 1   (1000 words)   10%

Response 2   (1000 words)   10%

Midterm   15%

Final Essay   (2000 words)  35%

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