Test Cover Image of:  Unsettling


Jews, Whiteness, and Incest in American Popular Culture

By analyzing how various media told stories about Jewish celebrities and incest, Unsettling illustrates how Jewish community protective politics impacted the representation of white male Jewish masculinity in the 1990s. Chapters on Woody Allen, Roseanne Barr, and Henry Roth demonstrate how media coverage of their respective incest denials (Allen), allegations (Barr), and confessions (Roth) intersect with a history of sexual antisemitism, while an introductory chapter on Jewish second-wave feminist criticism of Sigmund Freud considers how Freud became “white” in these discussions. Unsettling reveals how film, TV, and literature have helped displace once prevalent antisemitic stereotypes onto those who are non-Jewish, nonwhite, and poor. In considering how whiteness functions for an ethnoreligious group with historic vulnerability to incest stereotype as well as contemporary white privilege, Unsettling demonstrates how white Jewish men accused of incest, and even those who defiantly confess it, became improbably sympathetic figures representing supposed white male vulnerability.

Author Information

ELI BROMBERG completed his PhD in English and American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2017. He has taught at Fordham University, the University of Hartford, Hofstra University, Mount Holyoke College, and UMass. He's been published in The Forward, In geveb, Shofar, and Studies in American Jewish Literature.


Bromberg breaks the silence and pushes discomfort to the margins as he unpacks notions of American Jewish Ashkenazi exceptionalism without overlooking how Jewish whiteness, an embodied American process, exists as an anomaly... Innovative.
— Katya Gibel Mevorach, author of Black, Jewish and Interracial: It's Not the Color of Your Skin but the Race of Your Kin,

In this provocative and timely book, Eli Bromberg dares to examine how anti-Semitic sexual stereotypes centered on the incest taboo continue to shape representations of Jews and Jewishness in American culture. Bromberg brings oft-silenced topics to the fore, exposing the “protective politics” of Jewish communities and unsettling paradigms...a fascinating contribution to the fields of Jewish cultural studies and comparative race studies.
— Lori Harrison-Kahan, author of The White Negress: Literature, Minstrelsy, and the Black-Jewish Imaginary

Audience: College/higher education;