Negotiating Dis-ease: Jewish Women and the Work of Woody Allen
  • Room 306, Roland Levinsky Building, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, PL4 8AA

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In November 2017, Claire Dederer published an essay for The Paris Review, the majority of which was an attempt to untangle how – given allegations of sexual abuse against him, the scandal of his marriage to his ex-partner’s daughter, and his valorisation of relationships with very young women in films like Manhattan – she could now watch Woody Allen’s movies and what her responsibilities are as a writer. Are they “to turn away, or to overcome my biographical distaste and watch, or read, or listen? And why does the monster make us – make me – so mad in the first place?” 

This paper is a response to these questions. It considers how feminist researchers might begin to negotiate their anxieties about seeming to either endorse or celebrate Allen’s work in a climate in which (some) actors are expressing their regret at having worked with him. 

These anxieties are compounded when exploring the work of Jewish women performers within cultural products that often marginalise, ridicule, or else blame the characters they play for the problems of the protagonist. There are no easy answers but, by discussing how working with Woody Allen might both be informed by, and calibrate, the 'star texts' of performers such as Julie Kavner, Louise Lasser, Scarlett Johansson and Elaine May, more empowering readings of Jewish women might be possible based on their own histories, careers and performing presence.

This is a PEP Talk research seminar, organised by the Performance.Experience.Presence research group at the University of Plymouth.

All are welcome to attend for free. No booking required.

PEP Talks are livestreamed for those who are unable to attend in person via the @talkspep Instagram account.

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Who is Roberta Mock?

Roberta Mock is Professor of Performance Studies and Director of the Doctoral College at the University of Plymouth. Her research tends to focus on Jewishness, gender and sexuality in performance, particularly in stand-up comedy and performance art. She is the author of Jewish Women on Stage, Film and Television. Her most recent practice-research project was a performance of Pearl Williams' 1961 live comedy album, A Trip Around the World Is Not a Cruise. Roberta is also the Chair of the Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA).


Performance. Experience. Presence (P.E.P) research group

Sharing interests in embodiment, training and cultural representation, our research focuses on creating and analysing performance in all of its forms. This group includes researchers of theatre, dance, live art and interdisciplinary performance practices.

Our PEP Talks series of research seminars is scheduled throughout the academic year and research students organise their own conferences and events.

Learn more about the work carried out by PEP, our theatre, dance and performing arts research group

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Interested in studying for a PhD in performing arts?

If you're interested in studying for a PhD in performing arts take a look at our course page to get a feel for what we offer, our research specialisms and who we are. You may also be interested in other opportunities available within the wider Media and Performing Arts research area.

For general information about studying for a PhD at the University of Plymouth take a look at our postgraduate research degree pages.


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