Ziv, A & Zajdman, A (June 30, 1993)

Semites and Stereotypes: Characteristics of Jewish Humor,
Greenwood Press

Semites and Stereotypes


With an ongoing international conference, Jewish humour has been a subject of serious scholarly enquiry. Most academic publications, however, have been individual works representing a particular thesis or viewpoint, generally on literary aspects. The present collection of essays by scholars from England, France, the United States, Denmark, Israel and Australia explores the characteristics of Jewish humour from a variety of perspectives, including anthropology, literature, psychology, sociology and religion.

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Geographically, the work distinguishes between the Jewish humour of Israel and that of the diaspora; historically, it traces Jewish humour to the Bible. The linkages with Judaism and the Yiddish language are explored. Essays deal with the Jewish use of humour in stressful and tragic situations, with self-disparagement in Jewish humour, with anti-semitism and stereotyping, and with Jewish women as the butt of jokes.

The contributions to world culture of humorists Sholom Aleichem, Woody Allen, Philip Roth and Charlie Chaplin and numerous contemporary performers are discussed, as are the Jewish theorists of humour, including Sigmund Freud, Henri Bergson, and Arthur Koestler. An interdisciplinary book, this should be of interest to students and researchers of Jewish tradition and folklore, Jewish-American literature, American studies, and humour, popular culture, anthropology, psychology and sociology.

Please note: not yet reviewed by CEDAR