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  • Polack_Lit_Hist_2017_Revision

    Rights statement: The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Literature and History, ? (?), 2018, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2018 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Literature and History page: http://journals.sagepub.com/home/lah on SAGE Journals Online: http://journals.sagepub.com/

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Melodrama and the ‘art of government’: Jewish emancipation and Elizabeth Polack’s Esther, the Royal Jewess; or The Death of Haman!

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Forthcoming
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>23/07/2018
<mark>Journal</mark>Literature and History
Publication statusAccepted/In press
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article challenges historians’ representations of working-class Jewish attitudes to emancipation in the early nineteenth century through a reading of Elizabeth Polack’s 1835 melodrama, Esther, the Royal Jewess, or the Death of Haman! Low expectations of working-class political engagement and the working-class genre of the melodrama are both challenged by the astute political content of Polack’s play. Its historical and political value is revealed by placing the play within the tradition of the purimspiel, the Jewish genre that traditionally explores Jewish life under hostile government. Reading the play alongside Walter Benjamin’s writings on the disparaged German melodramatic genre of the trauerspiel enables a finely articulated reading of its complex exploration of issues of sovereignty, law, and religious and political freedom.

Bibliographic note

The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Literature and History, ? (?), 2018, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2018 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Literature and History page: http://journals.sagepub.com/home/lah on SAGE Journals Online: http://journals.sagepub.com/