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Indiana University Bloomington
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Course Description

Guns and Roses: Representations of Soldiers and War in Modern Hebrew Literature (3 cr.)
Stephen Katz
JSTU-L 285 #30405
TR 1:00-2:15
GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, CASE GCC

Contemporary stereotypes of the Israeli as soldier frequently obscure the complex, ambiguous and ambivalent regard held by Jewish tradition toward the profession of soldiery.

Our course will explore the nuances behind these complexities through readings focused on the image of the Jew as soldier in war and peace ever since the middle of the nineteenth century, when Jews--seeking emancipation, integration and secularization--in Europe began to enlist in their host countries’ national armies as indication of their active desire to become citizens in the emerging nation-states.

Our readings (all in English translation) will come from Hebrew literature and critical works of non-fiction and will focus on the experiences of protagonists in times of war and conflict commencing with the First World War, continuing with the Holocaust years, and reaching new levels with the establishment of the State of Israel.

In the course of this survey, we will also witness the evolving image of the Jew as soldier through our readings and a number of motion pictures. Concepts such as the Muscle Jew, the Masada Complex, and the Samson Syndrome will be included as we read selections expressing the protagonists’ experiences of war and quest for its cessation.

Students will be expected to attend a number of evening screenings of relevant films that will be scheduled in addition to attendance of classes.