Read at The New York Review of Books
David Anthony's book, Sensationalism and the Jew in Antebellum American Literature, uncovers the presence of antisemitism in various forms of US culture prior to the Civil War.
Antisemitism has appeared in many times and places-and, as David Anthony shows in his informative, unsettling Sensationalism and the Jew in Antebellum American Literature, in many genres.
Anthony's research reveals that the pre-Civil War era saw a common stereotype of Jews as villainous, materialistic, and scheming. However, he also notes that there was ambivalence expressed by non-Jews, presenting Jews as both menacing and enticingly exotic.
Anthony demonstrates that the Jew as villain-materialistic, scheming, sometimes sexually aggressive-was a common stereotype in the pre-Civil War era. But he also reveals that many non-Jews expressed ambivalence, depicting Jews as menacing yet enticingly exotic.
Anthony's focus is on Jewish characters in sensational novels, which were part of the lurid underside of antebellum popular culture.
Much of Anthony's focus is on Jewish characters in sensational novels.