Musical Stereotyping of American Jewry in Early 20th-Century Mass Media. Daniel Goldmark, Case Western Reserve University. Co-sponsored by the Melton Center for Jewish Studies at Ohio State.
This paper explores how the music associated with turn of the century American Jewry was cultivated and shaped largely by the evolving mass-media / entertainment industry: vaudeville, Tin Pan Alley, theatre, Broadway, and film. Goldmark describes how devices of mass culture that seem to have no origin — such as musical tropes — have their histories effaced, whether intentionally or simply through ignorance. By tracing how the musical profiling of ethnic groups was first practiced on stage and then perfected among music publishers, Goldmark shows how vaudeville, Broadway, and eventually Hollywood had a ready-made arsenal of musical codes to draw on when the occasion arose for a “Jewish scene” or “Hebrew situation.” By the time the sound film era began in Hollywood—ushered in by the most famous Jewish assimilation film ever, The Jazz Singer (1927) — the sound of American Jewry was not only cliché, it was a stereotype.
Daniel Goldmark is professor of music and director of the Center for Popular Music Studies at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. He is the series editor of the Oxford Music/Media Series, and is the author and/or editor of several books on animation, film, and music, including Tunes for 'Toons: Music and the Hollywood Cartoon (California, 2005).
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