In recent years Jewish fiction and non-fiction writers have turned to the archive quest narrative to explore family secrets, confusing histories, and lost or misunderstood rumors about Jewish culture and people. These narratives are interested not only in recovering events from the past, but in charting the writer’s experience of recovering the past. Not surprisingly, one of the prominent features of these works is the obsession with the archive’s material fragments— bunches of letters, photographs, old train tickets, diaries, and/or misplaced objects from another world. As the characters in these narratives search (impossibly) for “historical truths” they wrestle with relationships among history, narrative, and the meaning of Jewish identity. This course will study a selection of archival quest narratives written by contemporary Jewish writers to understand how the archive’s objects/papers work rhetorically and aesthetically to create stories; how fiction and/or memoir shape and reflect knowledge of Jewish history and culture; and why archival objects and texts carry or unleash so much emotional power.
Arts & Letters (A&L) courses create meaningful opportunities for students to engage actively in the modes of inquiry that define a discipline. Courses are broad in scope and demonstrably liberal in nature (that is, courses that promote open inquiry from a variety of perspectives). Though some courses may focus on specialized subjects or approaches, there will be a substantial course content locating that subject in the broader context of the major issues of the discipline. Qualifying courses will not focus on teaching basic skills but will require the application or engagement of those skills through analysis and interpretation.
Multicultural, Identity, Pluralism, and Tolerance (IP) courses examine the social construction of collective identities, the emergence of representative voices from varying social and cultural standpoints, and the effects of prejudice, intolerance, and discrimination. The purpose of courses in this category is to analyze the general principles underlying tolerance, or the lack of it.
Global Perspectives courses study world cultures in critical perspective, or analyze worldviews that differ substantially from those that prevail in the present-day United States.
Literature, 1789 to the present courses focus on literary work produced over more than two centuries -- from the period of British romanticism and the early republic of the United States up to now -- in order to foster familiarity with key works in British and American literary history. Literary history illustrates how literary works reflect, address, and resist the social and political environments in which they are produced as well as other works that have preceded them.
Empire, Race, and/or Ethnicity courses focus on ways that race matters in literature, media, and culture. Recent courses have examined such matters as native American literature and film; nineteenth-century writings by slavers and enslaved people in the U.S. and British colonies; fiction and filmmaking in post-apartheid South Africa; Latinx science fiction and environmental justice, and the novels of Toni Morrison.
English Minor courses offer students centuries of cultural experience and representation in poetry, prose, drama, film, TV, new media, and folk artifacts. The English minor can focus and extend the values of a liberal arts education, while also providing extensive training in writing, speaking, and critical thinking.