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Creations, names, and life: humanity and femininity in the female Golem myth

Herzig, Marissa (2021) Creations, names, and life: humanity and femininity in the female Golem myth. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The subtle hierarchy which dictates who is granted and denied cultural authority is rarely more evident than when examining folklore through which “we can see all the shimmering, shadowy uncertainties of the world.” The myth of the Golem, a clay being in Jewish folklore, provides an ideal opportunity for engaging with the default equation of humanity and masculinity, an assumption present in most Golem stories. My research attempts to disrupt this hierarchy that places women as lesser and the human as superior by examining the recuperated figure of the female Golem. I interrogate intersections of the constructed categories of “female” and “human” in Helene Wecker's The Golem and the Jinni and in Alice Hoffman's The World That We Knew by tracing the complex literary history of the female Golem, focusing on the misogynistic myth of the female Golem attributed to Solomon ibn Gabirol. Through elaboration upon the feminist critiques advanced by Hoffman and Wecker, I highlight the glimpses of post-humanist thought achieved by each author’s feminist revision of the female Golem, investigating the way certain humanist ideas remain and limit each novel’s feminist project. By drawing on post-humanist philosophy and feminist and Jewish feminist literary criticism to consider these novels, I ultimately propose the necessity of post-humanist thought to the success of feminist interventions.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Herzig, Marissamah387@pitt.edumah387
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMurray Twyning,
Committee CoChairJohnson,
Committee MemberShear,
Committee MemberShyovitz,
Date: 23 April 2021
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 5 April 2021
Approval Date: 23 April 2021
Submission Date: 21 April 2021
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 58
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: David C. Frederick Honors College
Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Golem, Feminism, Posthumanism, Jewish Studies
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2021 14:08
Last Modified: 23 Apr 2021 14:08


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