Germanic Languages | Modernity & Tradition in Yiddish Literature & Culture
Y505 | 2702 | Warnke


Topic: Yiddish Literature between Torah and Revolution

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

PLEASE NOTE: This course meets during the second eight weeks only; course
meets with CMLT C300 and GER Y300

The late nineteenth and early twentieth century was a time of major social,
economic, spiritual, and political upheaval for Jews in Eastern Europe. Jews
found themselves caught between traditional piety and a life-style
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-Jews, 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 by
Bergelson, Weissenberg, Shapiro, and Ansky, whose literary careers began in
the early twentieth century.

Our discussion of these texts will focus on the conflicts between modern and
traditional Jews and between Orthodox and Hassidic 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%), 4 short papers (40%), final paper (30%).

Texts:
(+) Aleichem, TEVYE THE DAIRYMAN AND THE RAILROAD STORIES
(+) Wisse, A SHTETL AND OTHER YIDDISH NOVELLAS
(+) Howe & Greenberg, A TREASURY OF YIDDISH STORIES
(+) a course reader