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Indiana University Bloomington
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Course Description

The Kibbutz in Fact & Fiction (3 cr.)
Stephen Katz
JSTU-L 340
MW 2:30-3:45

Meets with NELC-N 695 Graduate Topics in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures

The kibbutz, Israel’s communal socio-economic system, has undergone many changes since its initial formation almost a century ago. Although it always remained a small community in Israel, the kibbutz as an object of idealization and pride in Israeli society and culture has exceeded its actual size.

In this course, we will read about the history and ideological foundations of this communal society to learn why it came to be and what ideals it attempted to realize—among them the elimination of hatred, strife, social class and inequality among its members and between men and women. Supplementing our readings will be video representations of life on the kibbutz and, whenever possible, guest speakers who have lived on a kibbutz.

In probing the cultural impact of the kibbutz on Israeli society, we will read a series of literary works—primarily short stories and novels—whose action takes place with the kibbutz as background. They will trace the evolving attitudes to the kibbutz in Israel. Our interest will focus on whether the kibbutz has been able to realize itself as a utopia or is a dystopia.