The Jacob cycle in Angels in America: Re-performing scripture queerly

Yair Lipshitz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As theater is an art form that many times juxtaposes texts with the performing body, one of its main contributions to Jewish culture could be in its "corporeal reading" of Jewish textual heritage. Tony Kushner's celebrated play Angels in America proposes such a reading of Jewish texts-mainly the biblical Jacob cycle and the Jewish tradition regarding angels-as a queer re-performance that emphasizes bodily aspects such as desire, sexuality, and disease. Analyzing the play alongside Jewish classical texts from the midrashic and exegetic traditions, this paper suggests that the re-performance of Jewish texts as queer repertoire in Angels in America raises questions about the politics of the body in contemporary culture while at the same time opening up new horizons within textual tradition itself, exploring new meanings within these texts-as well as the efficacy of their performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-238
Number of pages36
JournalProoftexts - Journal of Jewish Literature History
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


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