Jewish Studies | S.Y. Agnon and the Jewish Experience
L395 | 29059 | Katz, S
S.Y. Agnon and the Jewish Experience (3 cr.)
JSTU-L 395 #29059
(Meets with NELC-N 695)
What does it mean to live as a man of faith in a contemporary world?
How does that background affect one's view as to modernity,
secularism as an alternative world-view, the issue of a liberated
woman, Zionism and progress?
These and other concerns will be represented in the writings of S.Y.
Agnon, Hebrew literature's most insightful and talented writer.
Israel's most highly decorated story teller and Nobel Prize
laureate, S.Y. Agnon (1887-1970) composed numerous short and long
tales which mirror the dilemmas of traditional Jewish culture's
confrontation with issues such as assimilation, secularism and
modernization of Diaspora and Israeli Jewry.
Through Agnon's sophisticated vision, we become cognizant of the
dynamics of his hero's travails who must confront the reality of
being caught in the middle, between a secure though fading world of
faith and piety and life in an environment lacking absolute truths,
certitudes, comfort and order. Agnon's fiction conveys the tensions
represented by the cultural upheavals in the experiences of
diasporic and Israeli Jewry, the life and values transformed by
circumstances around them.
Following our encounter with the world into which Agnon was born, we
will read some of his most powerful tales, those depicting the
seemingly innocent life of bygone days, though told through the
prism of a modernist's vision. We will then read works telling of
the impact of twentieth-century forces on Agnon's heroes, among them
those of the First World War, pogroms, the Holocaust, and the
existence of the State of Israel. Other themes such as love, kindred
spirits, the "agunah" (undivorced single woman), Messianism, and the
hero's ambivalent stance about his surroundings will figure
centrally in our readings.
The course assumes no previous knowledge of Hebrew, Jewish
traditions, or works by this writer. A desire and ability to read
are the only requisites. The course will include a midterm and final
exam as well as a term paper on a selected short work by Agnon.
Fulfills: CASE A&H, College Global Civilizations & Cultures, Jewish
Studies Language & Literature, Literature & the Arts, or History &