Forms and varieties of fiction, poetry, and drama by Jewish writers from the 19th century to the present.
Literature of the Jewish Ghetto
The idea of the ghetto—as a destination, an origin, a physical boundary, an emotional trap, a labyrinth, a prison, a haven, and an inspiration for self-determination—has been a focal point of Jewish literary culture since the seventeenth century. The first ghetto used to segregate Jewish people was created in Venice in 1611 and was followed by the creation of Jewish ghettos throughout Europe, England, China, and the United States among other places. This course examines literary and film depictions of Jewish ghettos from the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries. We will consider the ways that Jewish writers and artists have wrestled with the ambivalences of the ghetto—as both an emblem of Jewish cultural identity and an oppressive site inspiring resistance against European antisemitism. In the wake of Covid, this course will also offer a timely focus on the historical intersections of social distancing, physical and intellectual isolation, segregation, anti-Black racism, and antisemitism. Readings will come from a range of writers including Sarra Copia Sulam’s (1592–1641) controversial letters over the immortality of the soul; Israel Zangwill’s bestselling Victorian novel, Children of the Ghetto (1892); selections from Emmanuel Ringelblum’s Notes From the Warsaw Ghetto (1940-42); Caryl Phillips’ The Nature of Blood (1997); and W.E.B. DuBois’s account of his visit to the Warsaw ghetto in “The Negro and the Warsaw Ghetto”(1943).
ENG 340 satisfies both the University Multicultural Requirement in the category of International Cultures and the Group Requirement in the Arts and Letters category. It will also count for credit in the Judaic Studies minor or major (taken as either English 340 or JDST 399).
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.