All Jews Are Queer

Jewish American culture is about as queer as it gets.

The Passing Game: Queering Jewish American Culture by Warren Hoffman (Syracuse University Press, $24.95) challenges the popular conception of what “queer” is, reaching back to reexamine some of the hallmarks of American Jewish culture in the 20th century. Focusing on six major works (with more modern pieces bookending the discussion), Hoffman upholds a definition of queer that has gained increasing currency in recent years — one that denotes nonheteronormative sexual or gender identity — but he reclaims the term’s original or alternative definitions as well: queer is something odd, something different. And it’s not only sexual orientation or gender identity that can be queered; everything from racial identity and immigrant status is open to queer interpretation. Queer, Hoffman demonstrates, is about passing, not passing, and subverting the paradigm, and he delights in demonstrating how, by this definition, Jewish American culture (represented in this book by literature, film and theater) is about as queer as it gets.

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