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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2004

E 322 • The Sacred and the Secular in Contemporary Jewish Literature from Israel, France and the United States

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
1:00 PM-2:00 PM
CAL 200

Course Description

This course will examine contemporary Jewish literature from three different countries, the United States, France, and Israel, in terms of their relationship (or lack thereof) with Judaism and Jewishness. In this context, we will read well-known works by several major authors from each country. Does their work incorporate Judaism or Jewishness in any way – thematically, stylistically, methodologically? How does it interpret Jewishness, if at all? Do these works redefine the sacred? Do the American and French authors use language differently than their non-Jewish compatriots might in their writing? Does the territoriality of Hebrew, or the direct link between Hebrew and Judaism, affect the way Jewishness is represented in the Israeli works? Conversely, what is the role of the secular in these texts? We will consider these and other questions, taking into account not only nationality, but also gender, ethnicity, and generational differences.

Grading Policy

Active participation & short reading responses 30%
Paper One: 4-5 pages 20%
Paper Two: 6-7 pages 30%
Oral presentation 20%


I. Israel: A. B. Yehoshua, The Lover, Yehuda Amichai, selected poems, Savyon Liebrecht, “Apples from the Desert”, Shulamith Hareven, City of Many Days, Orly Castel-Bloom, Dolly City
II. France: Albert Cohen, Book of My Mother, Hélène Cixous, selections from Stigmata: Escaping Texts, Albert Memmi, Pillar of Salt, Elisabeth Gille, Shadows of a Childhood: A Novel of War and Friendship
III. The United States: Rebecca Goldstein, The Mind-Body Problem, Philip Roth, The Counterlife, Isaac Bashevis Singer, The Magician of Lublin, Allegra Goodman, Kaaterskill Falls

The following texts will be distributed in class: selections from Hana Wirth-Nesher, ed. What Is Jewish Literature? and “Spiritual Rootlessness and Circumscription to the ‘Here and Now’ in the Sabra World View," by Dan Miron.


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