Hollywood History / Jewish History: The Past and Future of a Popular Jewish Identity (SCMS Panel) - Due August 12. Los Angeles

full name / name of organization: 
Scott Balcerzak / Northern Illinois University
contact email: 

A Jewish presence in Hollywood history is undeniably defined through a substantial yet complex influence upon American popular culture. From the founding of the Hollywood studio system by Jewish moguls to the early creative presence of such stage stars as Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor to the musical influence of songwriters Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and Jerome Kern - the birth of the modern entertainment industry in the first half of the century was defined by the ingenuity and creativity of immigrant Jews and their offspring. Yet, almost paradoxically, during this influential period, xenophobia and anti-Semitism was openly expressed by numerous important people, institutions, and legislative acts. With this conflict in mind, this panel explores the presence of a Jewish influence in the Hollywood of yesterday and today. It will examine this ethnic history through the complicated cultural narratives of segregation, resistance, and assimilation that define Jewish identity in gentile American society.

In keeping with the conference's theme of "Archiving / Screening / Mobilizing the Pasts and Futures of SCMS," this panel hopes to include work that is both archival (documenting and analyzing Jewish-American history in Hollywood) and theoretical (welcoming work employing ethnic, postmodern, feminist, queer, ideological, and reception theory). Topics can include studies of classic or modern Jewish filmmakers or stars, Jewish influence upon studio production, Jewish/gentile-audience studies, de-Semitization/re-Semitization in popular texts, and other variations upon the panel topic.

Please send an abstract of maximum 500 words (including a 5 item bibliography), with a short bio as a Word attachment via email to sbalcerzak@niu.edu no later than August 12. Expect a response by August 16. Please consult the SCMS guidelines before you submit at www.cmstudies.org.

Scott Balcerzak
Assistant Professor of Film and Literature
Department of English
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL, 60115