Germanic Languages | Modernity and Tradition in Yiddish Literature and Culture
Y300 | 2677 | Warnke


Three credit hour course; meets 9:30-10:45 a.m., MWF in WH 109.

PLEASE NOTE: This section meets during the SECOND EIGHT WEEKS ONLY

Topic: Yiddish Literature between Torah and Revolution

The late 19th and early 20th centuries were a time of major social economic,
spiritual, and political upheaval for Jews in Eastern Europe. Jews found
themselves caught between traditional piety and a lifestyle circumscribed by
God's commandments on the one hand and the powerful allure of modern secular
culture and the hope for social and political justice through revolutionary
movements on the other. Many began to redefine their relations within the
community, within the family, with non-Hews, and with God, and to look for
alternatives through political activism. Yiddish literature of that period
reflected and commented on how simple Jews in small towns participated in and
were affected by these enormous transformations.

After acquainting ourselves with the complex world of the shtetl (small town)
through some historical and anthropological texts, we will read novels,
novellas, short stories and memoirs by the three "classic authors," Mendele
Moykher Sforim, Sholem Aleichem, and I.L. Peretz, as well as by Bergelson,
Weissenberg, Shapiro, and Ansky whose literary careers began in the early 20th
century.

Our discussion of these texts will focus on the conflicts between modern and
traditional Jews and between Orthodox and Hasidic Jews, the tensions between
parents and children and husbands and wives, and the frictions created by
romantic and hostile relations between Jews and non-Jews.

Requirements include regular attendance, weekly readings active participation,
four 1-2 page papers and a final 8-page paper.

Grading: class participation (30%)
four short papers (40%)
final paper (30%)

Texts:
(+) Aleichem, TEVYE THE DAIRYMAN AND THE RAILROAD STORIES
(+) Wisse, ed., A SHTETL AND OTHER YIDDISH NOVELLAS
(+) Howe, et al., A TREASURY OF YIDDISH STORIES
(+) Frieden, CLASSIC YIDDISH FICTION
(+) a course reader