Author

Molly McGowan

Date of Award

2017

First Advisor

Joan DelPlato

Second Advisor

Peter Filkins

Third Advisor

Jane Wanninger

Abstract

This thesis comprises two major projects: Rivkele, my translation of Sholem Asch’s 1907 play גאָט פון נקמה (God of Vengeance) fr om Yiddish to English and a discussion of four major themes in the play using a variety of external texts. Discussing domestic violence leading to r ejection of family, I put God of Vengeance in conversation with Why Does He Do That? (2002) by Lundy Bancr oft. Discussing sexuality, horror , and women’s coming-of-age stories, I put God of Vengeance in conversation with the 1976 film adaptation of Carrie by Stephen King. Discussing social climbing and per formative charity, I put God of Vengeance in conversation w ith House of Mir th (1905) by Edith Wharton. Discussing (loss of) virginity as (loss of) social capital, I put God of Vengeance in conversation with The Virgin Daughter s (2008), a documentary about contemporary purity culture, and The Purity Myth (2009) by Jessica Valenti, a feminist criticism thereof. I studied Yiddish for two year s with the goal of eventually translating and producing a play; God of Vengeance appealed to me because of its complex sexual politics and high-stakes conflict. Translating from a feminist perspective (for example, changing the title fr om God of Vengeance to Rivkele), I re-frame the moral of the play without altering the narrative and encourage my reader to be critical of Sholem Asch’s original. Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance is about a man’s thwarted attempts to socially advance, but my Rivkele is about a young woman’s hard-won freedom.

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