In this talk, Dr. Ted Merwin, Associate Professor of Judaic Studies at Dickinson College, argues that Judaism’s characterization as a “worldly” religion in which the pleasures of the body are openly celebrated goes only part of the way to explain the ubiquitous nature of erotic themes in American Jewish culture. Tracing the use of sexual themes in an array of films, TV shows and stand-up routines—ranging from Eddie Cantor’s Whoopee and Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint to “The Contest” episode of Seinfeld and the audacious comedy of Sarah Silverman and Sacha Baron Cohen —Dr. Merwin will plumb the depths of the interest in sex in American Jewish popular entertainment to suggest that Jews opened a space for themselves in America partly through their unusual frankness and openness about sexuality.
DR. LAWRENCE BARON
PROFESSOR EMERITUS, SAN DIEGO STATE UNIVERSITY
FORMER NASATIR CHAIR OF MODERN JEWISH HISTORY AND DIRECTOR OF THE JEWISH STUDIES PROGRAM
As the Holocaust increasingly has been incorporated into public education, feature films, often based on juvenile Holocaust fiction or classic children’s novels are being made. This lecture looks at this trend starting with Disney’s The Devil in Vienna through The Boy in Striped Pajamas.