Religious Studies | Modern Hebrew Literature In English
R300 | 0559 | Katz, S.


"Laugh, and the world laughs with you; cry, and you cry alone"-this
saying characterizes the meteoric rise of satire as a leading
literary form in Hebrew literature at the turn of the twentieth
century.  To laugh at the other, only to realize that one is laughing
at oneself, served Hebrew writers well.  At the time, they undertook
the process of social and cultural reform of Jewish life, as the
latter emerged from a religion-centered worldview to take an active
part in modern, western society.
This course will trace some of the processes of social transformation
in which Hebrew literature took an active hand.  In L380, we will
learn about the "shtetl," the small east European town where most
Jews lived. Concepts and issues such as short Fridays, Red Jews, the
distorted replay of biblical situations in the present, and the
challenges to faith in a secular world will lead us through a
selection of some of the best readings in modern Hebrew literature.
Students will be challenged to consider the issue of theodicy, or
divine justice, in a world dominated by technology and science.  We
will meet idiots who believe they were born to explore the world,
lovers who cannot be happy, and stories of unhappy marriages,
divorces, and endings.
Readings will consist primarily of representative short stories, a
novel, and a work of non-fiction for background information.  Some
selected poetry will also be read in class.  All readings will be
directed to illuminate the manner by which Hebrew writers expressed
their views concerning personal and universal experiences such as the
loss of innocence and tradition in a modern world, nationalism, the
Holocaust, wars, peace, the individual, and the image of the new
Israeli-in-the-making.  Modern Hebrew authors and poets will be read.
Emphasized will be the stories of S.Y. Agnon, Israel's greatest
storyteller and Nobel Prize laureate.  His vision and influence will
be explored as pertaining to the dilemmas of faith in a secular
world, one's search for a lost paradise, and the possible solutions
offered in face of such an impossible journey.  Students will be
guided through the readings. The course is offered in English and
without any prerequisites, except a willingness and desire to read
and learn.
This will be an Intensive Writing course.   Our readings will
emphasize the connotative component of language as employed by
literary arts.  No proper communication of the meaning of the
readings, however, is possible without reliance on the denotative
aspects of language.  For that reason, students will be introduced to
critical analytical skills in approaching writing through the medium
of the selected readings, videos and related cultural components
covered in the course.  Instruction will be provided in the
techniques, strategies and organization of good writing. Mechanical
skills, such as grammar, punctuation, spelling and style will also be
included.  Different analytical methods will be introduced, some
specific to the Hebrew literary selections employed in the course,
and the general topics of literature.
Assessment of student progress will be based on demonstrated
improvement in writing skills and strategies.  A midterm and final
exam will be used to determine student comprehension and impromptu
expression.