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Unclean LipsObscenity, Jews, and American Culture$
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Josh Lambert

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781479876433

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479876433.001.0001

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Otherfuckers and Motherfuckers

Otherfuckers and Motherfuckers

Reproduction and Allegory in Philip Roth and Adele Wiseman

(p.99) 3 Otherfuckers and Motherfuckers
Unclean Lips

Josh Lambert

NYU Press

This chapter focuses on the literature of the 1960s and 1970s, examining how novels of that period used explicit representations of sexuality, formerly prohibited as obscene, to allegorize the particular Jewish reproductive anxieties of that moment—specifically, fears about the failures of Jewish cultural reproduction, that is, of American Jews' inability to produce identifiably Jewish offspring—in ways that revisited traditional Jewish literary tropes, revivifying them to reflect on and to resonate in the postwar period. It demonstrates how, for American Jews, the stakes of the law of obscenity, and of the constraints it placed on reproductive freedom and literary expression, changed with Jewish demographics. Obscenity, in the age of its liberalization, made possible the reinvigoration of a set of classic Jewish narrative tropes.

Keywords:   American Jews, sexuality, obscenity, Jewish cultural reproduction, reproductive freedom, literary expression

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