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American Yiddish Literature: Topics in Jewish American Literature

ENGL 287.401
TR 10:30-12

What makes a literature American? What are a writer's responsibilities? What is the meaning of translation? How do religion, gender, and politics figure in an immigrant literature? The course will address these and other questions through Yiddish poetry and prose written in America during the past century by immigrant Jews from Eastern Europe. Two films will be screened, as well. We will read the Yiddish materials (all in translation) in the context of critical and historical works. This case study of an ethnic literature that has retained its native tongue will enable us to investigate how a language and culture change when transplanted, and what happens to the individual writer who is "at home" in an exiled language. Authors include Isaac Bashevis Singer, Kadya Molodowsky, Moyshe-Leyb Halpern, Malka Heifetz Tussman, Abraham Cahan, Irving Howe, Hutchins Hapgood, Irena Klepfisz, Cynthia Ozick. All readings are in English. For this seminar, students will write 20-25 pages, divided between a midterm essay, a final essay, and several shorter response papers.