Zelda Popkin: The Life and Times of an American Jewish Woman Writer by Jeremy Popkin
Scheduled publication date: February 1, 2023
Zelda Popkin: The Life and Times of an American Jewish Woman Writer by Jeremy Popkin tells an amazing story. Zelda Popkin’s adventurous life could have made her the protagonist of one of her own novels. In his brilliant telling of the story of her life, her historian grandson, Jeremy D. Popkin, has made a singular contribution to the history of American Jewish women in the twentieth century.
From the 1920s, when she worked in the highly competitive and male-dominated public relations business, to her rise as a million-selling author of popular fiction beginning in the 1940s, including some of the earliest fiction on the Holocaust and the state of Israel, Zelda’s life and work documented the rise of American Jewish women. Popkin uses Zelda’s experience to bring to life a larger story of American Jews and American women in the twentieth century, with the vividness that comes from having a lively character at its center. At the same time, this will also be a story about a woman whose powerful personality profoundly influenced several generations of a family. Popkin makes the case that even if she sometimes burnished her stories to create what he calls “legends of Zelda,” she was one of the most articulate female members of the generation of Jews who fought their way into the American middle class during the decades of the 1920s and 1930s.
Zelda’s life is a rich source of evidence about the experience of American Jewish women and offers perspectives that are frequently at odds with analyses based on men’s lives. The story of Zelda, her generation, and its rich and significant legacy will create a compelling portrait and detailed tapestry of an iconic woman and her time.
Print length: 304 pages
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Schedule publication date: February 1, 2023
Jeremy D. Popkin is a professor at the University of Kentucky in the William T. Bryan Chair Professorship. He teaches History, Jewish Studies, Social Theory, Hebrew and Jewish Studies, and Modern & Classical Languages Literatures & Cultures. He received his B.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, and holds an A.M. degree from Harvard University. Popkin’s scholarly interests include the history of the French and Haitian revolutions and the topic of autobiographical literature. Popkin has held fellowships from the J.S. Guggenheim Foundation, the National Humanities Center, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Fulbright Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Studies, and the Newberry Library, and has been a visiting professor at Brown University and at the College de France, which has recorded his lectures as podcasts (in French). In 2012, Popkin was a short-term visiting professor at Australian National University in Canberra, Australia, and in 2013 he was named the Christian Wolff Visiting Professor at the Martin Luther University in Halle, Germany. Popkin teaches undergraduate courses on the era of the French Revolution, Europe since 1989, and modern Jewish history and the history of the Holocaust. He has served as director of UK’s Jewish Studies program and has frequently participated in the UK Social Theory program. In 2015-2016, Popkin co-directed the College of Arts and Sciences’ “Year of Europe” program.