REE 385 • Staging The Jew in European Culture
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
This course explores the representation of Jews on the European stage in the context of the national discourses regarding the "Jewish question" from the Enlightenment to World War I. This period saw the development toward Jewish emancipation and assimilation, as well as the rise of modern antisemitism. We will study both the problematic nature of philosemitic stage representations of Jews (e.g. Lessing, Cumberland) that have their beginnings during the Enlightenment period and the persistence and metamorphosis of antisemitic stereotypes in many popular plays. We will also examine Jewish self-representation and self-enactment through plays from the Yiddish theater (written for a Jewish audience) and by Jewish playwrights writing about Jewish themes for the mainstream European stages (e.g. Schnitzler, Herzl, Zangwill). While our discussions will focus on German/Austrian, British, Russian, and Yiddish traditions, we may also draw on examples from the French, Dutch, and Polish stages.
The following questions will guide our reading: a) What is the political and societal context, particularly in regards to Jews, in which these plays are written?; b) What are the intertextual relationships within and across national traditions?; c) How are foreign works adapted to fit the national discourse on Jews?; d) In regards to stage presentation: how is the body of the stage Jew presented across cultures? Since this course is open to graduate students from a variety of fields, all readings assigned to the entire group will be available in the original language and in English translation. Students will be asked to read additional material in their languages and make brief presentations. All final projects should involve texts of the student's language of expertise.
Grading: Participation: 20%; Mini-presentations: 10%; Presentation of final project: 10%; Proposal: 10%; Final Paper: 50%
Sample readings (subject to change): Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice; Lessing, Die Juden and Nathan der Weise, Sheridan, The Duenna, Cumberland, The Jew, Dickens, Oliver Twist (stage adaptation), Ettinger, Serkele, Pushkin, The Covetous Knight, Pisemsky, Baal, Chekhov, Ivanov, Andreyev, Anathema, Grillparzer, The Jewess of Toledo, Schnitzler, Professor Bernhardi, Zangwill, The Melting Pot, Herzl, The New Ghetto, Heijermans, The Ghetto, Asch, God of Vengeance, Wilde, Salome