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Sunday, February 23 • 3:00pm - 3:50pm
The Play that Tried to Change History: Israel Zangwill's "The Melting Pot"

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The play The Melting-Pot was first performed in 1908, in Washington, DC, in the midst of the great wave of Jewish immigration from the Russian empire to the United States. This large migration initiated a backlash, and Israel Zangwill, a well-known Anglo-Jewish writer, feared that the US would begin to impose restrictions, as the UK had already done. The Melting-Pot was an attempt by the playwright to show both the necessity of a land of refuge for Jewish immigrants and the value of Jews and other immigrants to the United States. The play became wildly popular, especially among Jewish audiences, and contributed a metaphor to studies of immigration and ethnicity. But ultimately The Melting-Pot did not succeed in its goals and in 1924 the US imposed devastating immigration restrictions. In this session we will discuss the play, its context and reception, the controversies it caused, and its relevance to immigration and Jewish life today.

avatar for Meri-Jane Rochelson

Meri-Jane Rochelson

Professor Emerita of English, Florida International University
Meri-Jane Rochelson is the author of A Jew in the Public Arena: The Career of Israel Zangwill, and has produced new editions of Zangwill's 1908 play The Melting-Pot and 1892 novel Children of the Ghetto. Her most recent book is Eli’s Story: A Twentieth-Century Jewish Life, a... Read More →

Sunday February 23, 2020 3:00pm - 3:50pm EST
Room 117 Koven Center - FIU

Attendees (5)