Non-Native Grounds: Jewish Writers In American Empire
Literature in English, North America
This dissertation examines the way Jewish writers around the period of mass migration to the U.S. (1881-1924) reflected on the imperial politics of the country they were entering. It consists of contextualized analyses of the works of seven Jewish writers: Emma Lazarus, Israel Zangwill, Abraham Cahan, Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, Mary Antin, and Michael Gold. In the writings of these individuals, it finds a sustained interest in both America’s new, turn-of-the-century imperialism and its long and ongoing history of settler colonialism. This imperial concern has been overlooked because the rubric of the incoming migrant writer is hard to square with the expanding geography of imperialism. The dissertation argues that these Jewish writers, who were entering a polity which they also knew to be reaching out into the world, provide a new angle on the culture of U.S. imperialism—linking it to Europe’s Age of Empire and showing how U.S. imperialism impacted life and culture even in the metropolitan centres of mainland America.