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Indiana University Bloomington
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Course Description

VT: Yiddish in the Post-Holocaust World: Culture, Memory, and Identity (3 cr)
Dov-Ber Kerler
JSTU-J 203 Arts & Humanities Topics in Jewish Studies (37382)
MW 4:55-7:10 WB WEB (DO)
2nd 8 week course

Originating in the late medieval Europe Yiddish language became by the late 19th century one of the two major Jewish languages of the modern era. Hebrew was perceived as the Jewish national language. Yiddish, with its 11 million East European speakers living by the early 20th century on five continents, was the international Jewish language with the largest number of speakers. The repression of Jewish culture in the Soviet Union, the growing assimilation in the Americas and the suppression of Yiddish in Palestine contributed greatly to the sharp decline of modern Yiddish culture. It was, however, the Holocaust, that divided the entire modern Jewish experience and in particular the fate of Yiddish into “before” and “after”.

After a concise survey the long history of Yiddish, this course will focus on the fate and state of Yiddish language, culture and its socio-cultural and its symbolic functions in the contemporary scene during the last 30 years. We will read and discuss a number of eminently readable books, travelogues, and articles as well as watch and review a few selected documentaries and feature films.