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Theatrical LiberalismJews and Popular Entertainment in America$
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Andrea Most

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780814708194

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814708194.001.0001

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The Birth of Theatrical Liberalism

The Birth of Theatrical Liberalism

(p.39) 2 The Birth of Theatrical Liberalism
Theatrical Liberalism

Andrea Most

NYU Press

This chapter traces the birth and development of theatrical liberalism in early twentieth-century America. It examines in detail its major ideological and dramaturgical features in a wide variety of films, plays, and other popular entertainment of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s and beyond. Theatrical liberalism combined salient features of Protestantism, liberalism, Judaic rituals and attitudes, and the inherent theatricality of a nation in formation. Characterized by a revolutionary embrace of theatricality as a viable social mode, the prioritizing of external action over internal intention, the celebration of self-fashioning as a uniquely American form of freedom, and the construction of a theatrical community based on obligation rather than rights, theatrical liberalism emerged as the hybrid expression of a modern liberal and Jewish worldview.

Keywords:   theatrical liberalism, Protestantism, Judaic rituals, theatricality, American Jews, Jewish worldview

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