Folklore | Israeli Folk Narratives
F545 | 31271 | H. Bar-Itzhak
In this seminar we will concentrate on three main folk narratives in
Israeli society – the narratives of settlement, immigration and
ethnicity. All these narratives are polyphonic in Israeli culture.
The aggregate of stories told by various narrators or written down
create the Israeli settlement folk narrative with all its
complexity. By uncovering this complexity we will learn about the
importance of folk narratives toward understanding Israeli society
Dealing with settlement narratives we will concentrate on both "big"
cultural narratives – what came to be designated as myths of Israeli
culture, and narratives from the periphery. The study of local
legends will indicate the importance of these legends for
understanding and interpreting Israeli culture. While examining
various stories we will uncover their symbolic dimension, the
complexity of the whole settlement narrative, and the ethos of the
Dealing with the immigration narrative we will analyze stories of
immigration and integration as told by various Jewish ethnic groups.
We will discuss the expression of the traumatic meeting with Israeli
reality, and the way these stories provide a means for coming to
grip with it. These stories will also uncover the cultural outlook
of different Jewish ethnic groups in Israel.
Israel today is a multicultural society. Despite the attempt made in
the 1950s to fuse immigrants into a national 'melting pot' and
provide them with an uniform culture, there is a returning to
patterns of ethnic culture many years after immigration. We will
analyze folk narratives of several Jewish ethnic groups in Israel
and point out to the Jews' experience of ethnicity in Israel as the
ethnicity of Jews vis-à-vis other Jews, rather than the ethnic
identity in the Diaspora of a religious minority among non-Jews.
There is no prerequisite for course. All the required readings are
in English. The classes will consist of lectures and discussions,
and the weekly reading assignments. At the end of the semester
students shall prepare a term paper.