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Indiana University Bloomington
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Course Description

Modern Hebrew Literature in English (3 cr)
Stephen Katz
JSTU-L 380 (30792)
MW 1-2:15 (SY 006)

The course is intended to acquaint students with the chief issues, forms, and writers of modern Hebrew literature active in the first half of the 20th century. The course does not require or assume any previous acquaintance with Hebrew or Hebrew literature.

Readings (all in English) will consist primarily of representative short stories and a novel. Some selections of poetry, when assigned, will be read in class. The primary purpose of the readings will be to introduce students to the culture of the shtetl, the small east European Jewish hamlet. We will be exploring the way in which literature responds and reflects major historical events in the Jewish experience of the early 20th century. In that regard, we shall explore the many forces prompting the protagonists' rebellion against that way of life with its insular piety. Yet, having abandoned the ways and values of the shtetl, the youth of those days are depicted as being left with the burden of seeking out new roots and finding a meaning for their lives.

Under the phenomenon of this large cultural transformation, as we shall see, Hebrew literature had to contend with and give expression to the most central events and themes of modern times affecting Jewish life: the loss of innocence and tradition in a modern secular world; nationalism; the Holocaust; the rebirth of Israel; wars, peace and the individual; and the image of the new Israeli.

Grades will be based on writing assignments—this is an Intensive Writing course—a midterm and final exam, as well as in-class participation. An optional paper will be made available to those wishing to do extra-credit work.