This course offers an introduction to the literary and cultural activity of Yiddish-speaking Jewish communities in Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, and the United States from the late nineteenth century until the present. Materials include prose fiction, autobiography, poetry, and drama by major writers (including Sholem Aleichem, Y. L. Peretz, S. Ansky, and Isaac Bashevis Singer), as well as a selection of Yiddish films.
Knowledge of Yiddish is not required; all readings are in English.
The course focuses on the distinctive role that Yiddish played in modern Jewish culture during a period when the language was the vernacular of the majority of world Jewry. The course examines how “Yiddish modernism” took shape in different venues and genres, and it considers larger, overarching issues, especially the role that this traditional vernacular language played as a vehicle for modernist ideas during periods of extraordinary upheaval.
For more information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org