AMS 391 • Modern Jewish Fiction
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
The Jewish cultural experience in its long nomadic history displays as much discontinuities as it does a putative constancy. If we apply a Bergsonian appreciation, we shall notice its personality grows ever more complex as it integrates contraries but if we consider Deleuze and Guattari, we can also notice its rhizomic nature, appearing and disappearing, emerging as a minority literature in various major tongues but also creating distinct holistic cultural expressions in its own languages-- or hybridic ones--cognizant that its symbolic esthetic system depends upon an ethical inheritance which substantiates renaissance. This course articulates the emergence of a Jewish literary secular culture emerging from a colonialized Third World condition starting in Eastern Europe in the latter part of the 19th Century and making its way across the globe metamorphosing into a contemporary First World Literature and culture. This course will initiate the student into the play of language politics which determines for the Jews why, in their diasporic condition, they engineered a tri-lingual solution in Eastern Europe using Yiddish, Hebrew and adopting ad hoc a Gentile tongue to proffer the vehicule for their literary and ideological intentions. We shall begin with the emergence of Yiddish literature reading texts of Sholem Aleykhem, Bergelson, Rabon and Bashevis Singer [Nobel Prize Winner] who provide a quality cross section of this murdered culture from its beginning to its demise. By observing the the choices of genre, personage, theme, stylistics, etc. we notice how this new culture reflects common patterns of older renewing written cultures [ Arabic, Chinese, Hindi,etc.] with its own particularities. We shall also read 4 key Hebrew writers, Faierberg, Uri Nisn Gnesn, Agnon [Nobel Prize] and A. B. Yehoshua, the former as restorers of secular literature and the latter as modern voices of contemporary Israeli Jewish literature. By studying the above works comparatively, they sharply reflect the ideological,class and esthetic differences which the linguistic medium and setting imply as well as displaying the passage from the hinterland to the contemporary first world literarys establishments. Jewish literature particularly in the 20th century made significant moves to participate in various Gentile linguistic mediums and created a rich hybridic culture reflecting both Jewish and general humanistic concerns using barrowed literary forms and styles and imagery. We shall read works by Babel [Russia], Kafka [ Czech German], Bruno Schulz [Poland], Roth [Germany], Pyotr Rawicz [France/Ukraine], Abraham Cahan, Saul Bellow, P. Roth, Safran-Foer [ [Jewish-American writing] in order to recognize the accomplishment of this modern Jewish culture to express and elaborate its uniqueness and displays its contemporary Angst. [If there is an insistance in class for a particular author not listed, we can accommodate such a request.] This course provides a panorama and interpretative optic to understand how a modern diasporic literary culture emerged and propelled itself in less than a century, despite a Holocaust, massive migration and emergency nation-building, into a first world literary culture with writers who are today universal household names. Americanists are invited to write final papers on American or Canadian authors.