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Indiana University Bloomington
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Course Description

American Jewish Writers (3 cr.)
John Schilb
ENG-L 241 #30379
TR 1:00-2:15

This course will offer a rare opportunity to talk with internationally-known Jewish authors.  Dara Horn, David Bezmogis, A. B. Yehosua, and Allegra Goodman will visit our class to discuss their work.  Overall, the course will deal with major examples of contemporary Jewish fiction.  In particular, we will focus on how these texts depict the losses, wanderings, creative endurance, and new community-building that Jews experienced as they struggled to survive the past century. 

We will begin with Horn’s The World to Come, a novel based on the real-life theft of a Marc Chagall painting and on Stalin’s actual destruction of Yiddish literary culture in the Soviet Union.  We will proceed to compare  two books about Jewish immigration to North America: Bezmogis’s Natasha: And Other Stories and Nadia Kalman’s The Cosmopolitans.  Then we will read two novels whose heroes face dramatic challenges in their jobs: Yehoshua’s A Woman in Jerusalem and the late Edward Lewis Wallant’s The Tenants of Moonbloom.  Next will be a pair of novels about Jewish-American life in the Nazi years: Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America and Neal Pollack’s Jewball.  We will then turn to Goodman’s novel about life in a close-knit modern religious community, Kaaterskill Falls.  Our final book, bringing us full circle, will be Nicole Krauss’s novel The History of Love, which like The World to Come traces developments in Jewish literature through and after the twentieth century’s catastrophes.

Required writing will entail some brief, informal reflections; a short paper analyzing a textual passage (3 pages); and a longer paper (5 pages) on a topic of your own choosing.  There will be a midterm and a final exam. 

Beginning Summer 2011 & after: GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, CASE DUS
Before Summer 2011: A&H, CSA, JS Literature & the Arts
Important note: Jewish Studies majors who would like to take this special course should e-mail Carolyn Lipson-Walker ( by October 17. Jewish Studies has 10 seats.