Fantasy, Realism, and Fiction in Modern Yiddish Literature (3 cr.)
GER-E 352 / CMLT-C 378 Topics in Yiddish Culture
2nd 8 week course
CASE A&H, CASE GCC
Modern Yiddish culture draws much of its strength and pride from the major achievements of modern Yiddish literature which originated in 19th century Russia and Poland. Evolving, in part, from traditional and folk genres (many of which can be traced back to the 16th century and earlier), it soon adopted contemporary models of European fiction and literary creativity and adapted them to both the context of traditional Jewish literacy and the common experience of East European Jews and their social, cultural, and political aspirations. This course aims to offer a detailed survey of some of the major trends of the first century of Modern Yiddish literature with emphasis on its historical and formal aspects. Yiddish works that will be read in English translation will include a selection of tales by Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav (1772-1810), short novels and stories by Yisroel Aksenfeld (1787-1866), Mendele Moykher Sforim (1836-1917), Sholom Aleichem (1859- 1916), Y.L. Peretz (1851-1915), and the play “Der Dybbuk” by Sh. Ansky (1863-1920). Discussion and analysis of these works will be devoted to their fundamental cultural and historical context, their role in rediscovering and shaping the aesthetics of a young modern literature, as well as the interplay between satire, 'ethnographism", realism, and symbolism.