Browsing University of Alaska Fairbanks by Subject "Judaic studies"
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A World Of Difference: Emma Wolf, A Jewish-American Writer On The American Frontier"A World of Difference: Emma Wolf, A Jewish-American Writer on the American Frontier" is the first dissertation to undertake a scholarly inquiry of Wolf's Jewish novels, Other Things Being Equal and Heirs of Yesterday. Emma Wolf (1865--1932) was a Jewish-American literary pioneer who interrogated prevailing models of late nineteenth-century femininity, Judaism, and bifurcated, Jewish-American identity. This study retrieves the fiction of this native Californian from the margins of both Jewish and American literature. At the close of the nineteenth century, nearly all interest in American-Jewish life focused on the Eastern European Jewish immigrants on the Lower East Side of New York City. Emma Wolf's fiction imparts a singular glimpse of a Western American enclave of Jewish life. Remarkably, Wolf's Jewish novels resist the prevailing patterns of assimilation espoused by most Jewish writers at the end of the century. Instead of abandoning culture, faith, and family, Wolf embraces Jewish particularity. The preservation of Jewish identity in Wolf's fiction is a consequence of her American birth, her California origins, and her conviction that Jewish difference is as important as American conformity. Other Things Being Equal (1892) scrutinizes the struggle of a young Jewish woman who wants to marry a Christian. In sanctioning intermarriage, the novel abrogates religious precepts and contravenes the customary marital patterns of Jewish women. The implications of intermarriage afford Wolf the opportunity to expand on issues of Jewish affirmation and Jewish difference. In Heirs of Yesterday (1900) Wolf examines divergent responses of Jewish-Americans to anti-Semitism. In order to protect himself from discrimination, Dr. Philip May hides his Jewish birth. Wolf suggests that Jews who are forgetful of their ethnic identity are as misguided as the segment of American society that discriminates against them. This study of Emma Wolf's Jewish novels concludes that we must take a new literary census, one that embraces minority writers, like Emma Wolf, in order to appreciate the pluralism of the American literary canon and the full panoply of the nation's cultural productivity.