Title

Screwball

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

English Language and Literatures

First Advisor

Elizabeth Countryman

Abstract

This manuscript of poems explores Sephardi Jewish identity within the American diaspora. As the speaker attempts to make sense of herself and of her Jewishness in relation to her ancestry, she feels increasingly at odds with the Ashkenazi cultural practices picked up during her childhood in New York City. The poems grapple with questions such as: what Jewish culture belongs to whom? Who do bagels belong to? Who does Phillip Roth belong to? When Jewishness is not based in religious practice, what is it? Is it possible for a Sephardi Jew in America to disentangle themselves from Ashkenazi production? How did the Old Hollywood studio heads, most of whom were Jewish immigrants, create a myth of America that persists today? How does art and pop culture structure our inner lives? How do mothers, both real and imagined, structure our inner lives? These poems are highly referential and collage-oriented, which reflects the speaker’s attempts to figure out how art and pop culture has formed her. References reach far and wide, including Looney Tunes Dirty Dancing, A Room of One’s Own, and music by Gwen Stefani. Ultimately, the poems resist offering definitive answers to the questions it poses, instead insisting upon their fundamental un-answerability

Available for download on Friday, May 31, 2024

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