Literature in Translation 272/Religion 272

Spring Term, 2011


Readings in the works of 20th-century authors writing in Yiddish and Hebrew, such as the Polish author Isaac B. Singer, the Russian author Sholem Aleichem, and the Israeli novelists Amos Oz and A. B. Yehoshua. These writings are studied as literary expressions of religious themes and as responses to the historical and religious crises of modern Jewish life in Europe, the United States, and Israel. The class views four films for additional insight into Yiddish and Israeli culture. Students write two interpretive papers and daily analyses of the readings and films. This is a discussion-centered course.



Isaac Bashevis Singer, Gimpel the Fool and Other Stories Amos Oz, A Perfect Peace
     __Enemies: A Love Story A. B. Yehoshua, The Lover

Ansky, The Dybbuk

Yehudit Hendel, “Small Change”‎
Sholem Aleichem, Tevye the Dairyman Course-pack


Course Requirements

* Draft of first half of term paper: 10%

* 20-page term paper: how the Yiddish and Israeli selections address questions of life and reality: 30%

* 1-page analyses of daily reading assignments: 20%

* Two film presentations by student groups: 10%

* Informed class participation (and presentation of your reading analysis)  25%

* Summaries of assigned introductory essays: 5%


Classes and Assignments


25        Introduction to course. Introduction to Yiddish history and culture

26        The Dybbuk by S Ansky

                        Read The Dybbuk entire (but not introductions) [A = write 1-page analysis]

Read David Roskies’ “Introduction to the Dybbuk and Other Writings” (excerpt) (summarize)

27        Morning: view film “The Dybbuk” (Poland 1937)

1.30-3.30 pm in Leyburn 201:  discuss the film; discuss “Tevye Strikes It Rich”

            Read “Tevye Strikes It Rich” in Tevye the Dairyman [no analysis due]

28        Tevye the Dairyman

                        Read pages 35-131 [A]

Read Introduction (skip Part 3) to Tevye the Dairyman by Hillel Halkin (summarize)

29        Gimpel the Fool

Read “Gimpel the Fool” “Man from Cracow” “The Mirror” “The Little Shoemakers” “Joy" [A]

Read Eisenberg's “Isaac B Singer: Passionate Primitive or Pious Puritan?” (summarize)


  2        Enemies: A Love Story, Part 1

                        Read Enemies pp. 3-149  [A=analysis]

  3        Yiddish Films – Group Project

Student groups (4) view Yiddish films and prepare presentations for Friday

Films:  “A Letter to Mother” “Tevye” “Hester Street” “Fiddler on the Roof”

  4        Enemies: A Love Story, Part 2

                        Read Enemies pp. 151-280 (end) [A]

Work on group film presentations for Thursday

  5  at 9.40   Group film presentations

Work on draft of first half of term paper (on Yiddish literature);  meetings with instructor to discuss paper

  6        Introduction to Israeli culture and literature and to our Israeli authors

                        * Draft due in class: first half of term paper


  9        A Perfect Peace, Part 1

                        Read A Perfect Peace pp. 3-147  [A]

10        Israeli (Hebrew) Films – Group Project

Student groups (4) view Israeli films and prepare presentations for Friday

Films:  “They Were Ten” “Sallah” “The Band’s Visit” “Waltz with Bashir”

Read A Perfect Peace pp. 148-173 (no written analysis required)

11        A Perfect Peace, Part 2

                        Read A Perfect Peace pp. 174-291  [A]

                       12  at 9.40   Group film presentations


13        A Perfect Peace, Part 3;  and The Lover, Part 1

Read A Perfect Peace pp. 292-374 (end) [A: write your analysis on this book, not The Lover]

Read “A Disgrace to the Map of Israel” by Omer-Sherman (summarize)

Read The Lover pp. 3-58


16        The Lover, Part 2

                        Read  The Lover pp. 58-201  [A]

17        The Lover Part 3

                        Read The Lover pp. 202-352 (end) [A]

Read “Outraged Humanism: the fiction of A.B. Yehoshua” by G Morahg (summarize)

18        “Small Change” by Yehudit Hendel (novella)

                        Read “Small Change” and the “Forward” [A] (no summary)

19        Concluding class discussion of major themes in the readings and films (required)

Work on final paper

20        Work on paper;  meet with instructor


21 at noon:  *Term Paper due*