"His probing readings not only bring fresh insights to
these works, but also invite readers to rethink how
gender and sexuality are engaged, even as they are disguised
or obscured, in modern Jewish culture generally."
—Jeffrey Shandler, author of Adventures in Yiddishland
Tony Kushner’s award-winning epic play Angels in America was
remarkable not only for its sensitive engagement of Jewish-
American and gay culture but also for bringing these themes to a
mainstream audience. While the play represented a watershed in
American theater and culture, it belies a hundred years of previous
attention to queer Jewish identity in twentieth-century American literature,
drama, and film. In The Passing Game, Warren Hoffman
sheds light on this long history, taking up both Yiddish and English
narratives that explore the tensions among Jewish identity, queer
sexuality, performance, and American citizenship.
With fresh insight Hoffman examines the 1907 Yiddish play
God of Vengeance by Sholem Asch, the cross-dressing films of
Yiddish actress Molly Picon, and several short stories by Isaac
Bashevis Singer. He also analyzes the English-language novels
The Rise of David Levinsky (Abraham Cahan), Wasteland (Jo
Sinclair), and Portnoy’s Complaint (Phillip Roth). Hoffman highlights
the ways in which the characters in these canonical texts
attempt to "pass" as white, straight, and American in the early and
mid–twentieth century. This pioneering work is a welcome contribution
to the study of Jewish American literature and culture.
View other series books on Judaic Traditions in Literature, Music, and Art
Warren Hoffman teaches literature at Temple University, where
he works primarily on Jewish American literature and musical
theater. He is the director of Arts and Culture Programming for the
Gershman Y in Philadelphia.
6 x 9, 216 pages, 8 black-and-white illustrations, bibliography, index