Presented by Josh Lambert

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In the 1960s and 1970s, complaints about a “Jewish literary mafia” were everywhere. Although a conspiracy of Jews colluding to control publishing in the United States never actually existed, such accusations reflected a genuine transformation of an industry once notorious for excluding Jews into one in which many of the most influential figures are Jewish. How did Jews’ success in U.S. publishing affect the development of American literature, in general, and representations of Jews, in particular? And what lessons can be learned from the history of Jews in publishing about how to make the industry more equitable in the future?

Josh Lambert is the Sophia Moses Robison Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and English, and director of the Jewish Studies Program, at Wellesley College. He is the author of The Literary Mafia: Jews, Publishing, and Postwar American Literature (2022) and Unclean Lips: Obscenity, Jews, and American Culture (2014) and coeditor of How Yiddish Changed America and How America Changed Yiddish (2020).

Program made possible, in part, by Bonnie Burt and Mark Liss.