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Voices of Israel

ENGL 287.401
TR 1:30-3

Taught in English. Texts in translation

This course will listen and respond to voices that, beginning only in the late 20th century, were allowed to be heard in Israeli literature. These voices, of new immigrants, women, Arabs, Holocaust survivors (first and second generation), gays, writers of Middle Eastern descent and religious authors, among others comprise the new chorus. Conversly, the Zionist super-narrative dominated Israeli literature from its inception. Its predominantly male, Israeli-born (or educated), secular, Ashkenazi (of European descent) writers controlled the cultural scene at the time. These authors followed traditional and Modernistic models. Their works tackled the national, territory-based, aspirations of the Jewish people. Voices of the "others" --those who deviated from the central narrative-- were rarely heeded. They were often muted, suppressed or marginalized by the readership and critics or by the writers themselves. Only in the last two decades, with the debates over Postmodernist attitudes and practices in Israel, are those "others" allowed to be heard in voices that are loud and clear. The resulting cacophony of voices has now replaced the virtually singular voice of earlier ideological struggle and search for a Zionist utopia. We will examine this phenomenon over the course of the semester through readings of literary texts by Aharon Applefeld, Ronit Matalon, Eitan Glass, Anton Shamas Binyamin Shvili and others.

Grades will be based on a paper, final exam and class participation.
*The contents of the course changes each semester, and therefore may be taken more than once.