Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > Melodrama and the ‘art of government’:

Electronic data

  • Polack_Lit_Hist_2017_Revision

    Accepted author manuscript, 611 KB, PDF document

    Available under license: CC BY-NC: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Links

Text available via DOI:

View graph of relations

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 articlepeer-review

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/11/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Literature and History
Issue number2
Volume29
Number of pages20
Pages (from-to)144-163
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date19/10/20
<mark>Original language</mark>English

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.