Comparative Literature | Topics in Yiddish Literature: Love, Soul, and Destiny in Modern Yiddish Fiction
C377 | 26127 | Prof. Dov-Ber Kerler

MW 4:00-6:15
fulfills A&H and CS requirements
*2nd 8 weeks class only*

This course will offer a survey of modern Yiddish culture while
focusing on close readings and discussion of a number of major Yiddish
or Yiddish-related works (Yiddish prose and drama – all in English
translation), one American novella written in English, and viewing and
contrastively analyzing two major Yiddish films from the late 1930s
(one based on an eminent play and one on a major literary work).  The
literary works, which will be read and discussed, deal with some of
the central aspects of the human condition and modern Jewish
experience in the face of secularization and political turmoil in
Eastern Europe, and radical modernization in America since the late
19th century. These include: new possibilities (some real, some
imagined) for personal and social change; new ethical and moral
dilemmas in view of rapid secularization (the decline of religious
belief system and the traditional way of life); the clash between
individual and “progressive” collective aspirations on the one hand
and the overwhelmingly and often fatefully contrary effect of the
existing social, political, and economical realities on the other hand.