Publication Date

2016-05-16

Availability

Open access

Embargo Period

2016-05-16

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

English (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2016-04-28

First Committee Member

Joseph Alkana

Second Committee Member

Pamela Hammons

Third Committee Member

Patrick A. McCarthy

Fourth Committee Member

Andrew Furman

Abstract

This dissertation explores the use of the golem, the Jewish mythical creature, by authors to challenge monolithic conceptions of Jewish masculinity. I argue that by acknowledging the mutual interdependencies between the creator and the created, writers can gesture to the radical potential of the golem. In chapter one, I show how the treatments of the golem in Elie Wiesel’s and Isaac Bashevis Singer’s respective golem novels, The Golem: The Story of a Legend, and The Golem, precipitate its use in later stories. I also demonstrate how Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay interrogates masculinity by taking some of the questions concerning the creator’s relation to their art raised by Wiesel and Singer to their logical ends. In chapter two, I examine the representations of Jewish and black masculinities and the golem in James Sturm’s graphic novel, The Golem’s Mighty Swing. Chapter three demonstrates how Ruth Puttermesser of Cynthia Ozick’s The Puttermesser Papers can perform masculinity by creating a golem. Finally, in chapter four I explore how Thane Rosenbaum with his novel The Golems of Gotham, and Pete Hamill with Snow in August, negotiate cultural rupture and loss via their golems. I posit that all of these stories attest to the strong ties between creator and created in order to reimagine creation and power inside and outside Judaism.

Keywords

golem; Jewish-American; masculinity; comic books; men; superhero

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