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‘By A Nose’ or ‘By a Hair’: Bearding the Jew on the Georgian Stage

Wednesday, December 9, 2020 23 Kislev 5781

7:15 PM - 8:15 PM

  Presented by CBS member Toni Wein

This presentation shows how physical markers for the stage Jew evolve in the final decades of eighteenth-century England. As farces of the period increasingly target actual anxieties about Jewish immigration and assimilation, Jewish characters cease being represented as clean-shaven and accoutered like, nay sharing the very clothes of, the Christian British gentry, in all the current fashion. Instead, they begin wearing beards as their ethnic stamp. I discuss a host of lesser-known plays and productions from 1740 on [as well as some more familiar to us in these days] to chart how beards become associated with other stereotypic traits assigned the Jews, such as effeminacy, limping, and disease, all of which form barriers separating them from acceptance.

 

BIO: After an early career in theatre, Toni received her PhD in English literature from the University of California, Berkeley, specializing in the Romantic period. Like a good gypsy scholar, she taught at Berkeley, Gettysburg College, and Princeton University, before closing out her career at Cal State, Fresno. As an author, her first book studied the Gothic horror novel for its advancement of heroic national qualities; her subsequent work, ranging among topics like Irish landscape, theatre history, ecocriticism, and feminism, discussed works by authors such as Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Maria Edgeworth, Charlotte Bronte, and Charles Dickens. She published her final book, Monstrous Fellowship: 'Pagan, Turk and Jew' in English Popular Culture, 1740-1845, from which this talk is drawn, at the end of 2018.

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Thu, November 26 2020 10 Kislev 5781