Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures
Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Program
Modern Hebrew Literature in English/Hebrew- N588/N687

Course Description
The course is intended to acquaint students with the chief issues, forms and writers of modern Hebrew literature active in the first half of the twentieth century. L380/ N588 carries foreign language culture option credit and does not require or assume any previous acquaintance with Hebrew or Hebrew literature. However, L480 / N687 assumes an ability to read and comprehend advanced Hebrew literary texts.

Readings will consist primarily of representative short stories and a novel. Some selections of poetry, when assigned, will be read in class. The primary purpose of the readings will be to introduce students to the culture of the shtetl, the small east European Jewish hamlet. We will be exploring the way in which literature responds and reflects major historical events in the Jewish experience of the early twentieth century. In that regard, we shall explore the many forces prompting the protagonists' rebellion against that way of life with its insular piety. Yet, having abandoned the ways and values of the shtetl, the youth of those days are depicted as being left with the burden of seeking out new roots and finding a meaning for their lives.

Under the phenomenon of this large cultural transformation, as we shall see, Hebrew literature had to contend with and give expression to the most central events and themes of modern times affecting Jewish life: the loss of innocence and tradition in a modern, secular, world; nationalism; the Holocaust; the rebirth of Israel; wars, peace and the individual; the image of the new Israeli.

Grades will be based on a minimum of four writing assignments to be done outside of class as well as at least one in class may serve as the final. An optional paper will be made available to those wishing to do extra credit work.