Germanic Languages | Topics in Yiddish Literature
E351 | 28287 | Kerler

* 2nd 8-weeks course


This course will focus on close readings and discussion of a number of
modern Yiddish works (prose and drama – all in English translation),
one American novella originally written in English, and viewing and
contrastively analyzing two major Yiddish films from the late 1930th
(one based on a play and one on a major literary work). The works 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 overwhelming and often fateful clash with existing social,
political, and economical realities on the other hand. The discussion
of the texts and the films will also focus on one or more of the
following broad underlying themes of LOVE, SOUL, and DESTINY. The
basic texts ("intertexts" or "subtexts") that every participant must
become familiar with them are the following three Wisdom Books of the
Hebrew Bible: Song of Songs, Job, and Ecclesiastes.