The unique literary tradition of nineteenth-century American Jewish women has been largely ignored. In Writing Their Nations, Diane Lichtenstein considers more than twenty-five of these authors, including Emma Lazarus, Rebekah Hyneman, Penina Moise, and Emma Wolf. Their texts illustrate how Jews, women, and other "outsiders" have simultaneously struggled to maintain their "other" identity and to be seen as authentically American. These women strove to sustain alliances with both their American and their Jewish nations, and they used their writing to affirm multiple loyalties - despite the historical, religious, and cultural obstacles that discouraged or prohibited them from writing.
By molding two stereotypes, the American "True Woman" and the Jewish "Mother in Israel," these authors attempted to follow the prescriptions for middle-class American and Jewish womanly behavior in their lives and in their writing. They thus reassured their Jewish families and their American readers that they were "good citizens." Wrestling with issues of assimilation as well as gender, these women wrote from a unique vantage point.
"Taking into account their multiple loyalties, this book explores how these Jewish women created their own space and how we interpret their achievements. With a comprehensive bibliography, notes, and an index, this work is essential for scholars, women's and Jewish studies departments, and literary and historical studies." Library Journal " ... Lichtenstein has served the fields of American women's and Jewish history well ..." American Historical Review "This is a fascinating, well-researched book." Na'amat Woman "A significant record of the relationship of gender and Jewish ethnicity to American literary studies." Choice