From Stereotype to Metaphor

The Jew in Contemporary Drama

By Ellen Schiff

Series: SUNY series in Modern Jewish Literature and Culture
Paperback : 9780873956222, 275 pages, June 1983
Hardcover : 9780873956215, 275 pages, June 1983

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Who is a Jew? What is a Jew? In this all-encompassing study, Dr. Schiff probes these questions to help explain the prominence of Jewish characters in drama since World War II. The Jew has evolved into one of the most popular personages on the contemporary stage. Dramatists, both Jew and Gentile, in the United States and Europe, have been mining recently introduced concepts of the Jew to create a highly diversified and unfamiliar breed of dramatis personae.

From Stereotype to Metaphor tracks the evolution of the Jewish persona on the stage. From the debut of the Jew on the Western stage in the Middle Ages to the present century, Dr. Schiff investigates how the Jew has evolved from the stereotypical figures of biblical patriarchs, moneymen and villains into latter-day everyman.

This book traces the line of descent of the stage Jew from church drama, Shakespeare, Milton, and Racine to modern playwrights, including Miller, Gibson, Pinter, Wesker, Anouilh, Grumberg, and Woody Allen, concentrating on the development of the stage Jew since 1945.

Ellen Schiff is Professor of French and Comparative Literature at North Adams State College. She has published widely on modern theater and the depictions of Jews and minorities in contemporary drama.


"It is the first comparative study of the Jew in modern theater. The author is well read, well informed, and has an original, sensitive grasp. " — Rosette Lamount, Ph. D. Program in Comparative Literature, CUNY Graduate School

"The book fleshes out many questions concerning the theater's attitudes toward the Jew. The author presents her topic in a style which is alive, filled with zest and excitement. " — Bettina Knapp, Hunter College and CUNY Graduate School