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The Yiddish Curriculum

The Program offers a range of courses for both beginning and advanced undergraduates and graduate students. Aside from language courses on the beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels, seminars and lecture courses are offered on Yiddish literature, both in translation and in Yiddish.

Recent Courses

Course descriptions come from the Columbia College course descriptions.

CLYD W3500y Readings In Jewish Literature: Humor In Jewish Literature (In English), 3 pts.
Through an analysis of far-flung examples of comic Jewish literature created by Jews over three centuries and three continents, this course will attempt to answer two questions. First, are there continuities in Jewish literary style and rhetorical strategy, and if so, what are they? And second, can Jewish literature help us to understand the tensions between universality and particularity inherent in comic literature more generally? Works and authors read will include Yiddish folktales, Jewish jokes, Sholem Aleichem, Franz Kafka, Philip Roth, Woody Allen, and selections from American television and film, including the Marx Brothers, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Jerry Seinfeld, and Larry David.

CLYD W4200y American Jewish Literature: a Survey (In English), 3 pts.
2004 has been designated the three hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Jewish life in America. In examining the work of some of the greatest Jewish writers to live in America - writers in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish, some well known, some less so - this course hopes to answer several related questions. How are the changing fortunes of American Jews reflected in their literary creativity? How does Jewish multilingualism - not only seen in different works, but within the same work - affect modes and styles of Jewish writing? And, perhaps most importantly, how does one define American Jewish writing in an age of increasingly complex affiliations and identifications among American Jews? Novelists, short story writers, poets, and playwrights read include Sholem Aleichem, Anzia Yezierska, Henry Roth, Sholem Asch, Bernard Malamud, Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Jacob Glatstein, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Grace Paley, and Tony Kushner.

YIDD W3800x Readings In Yiddish Literature: the Family Singer [In English], 3 pts.
Isaac Bashevis Singer, Yiddish literature's only Nobel laureate, is arguably the most recognized Yiddish writer of the modern era; his brother Israel Joshua Singer and sister Esther Kreitman, both noted Yiddish writers, have failed to achieve the same kind of celebrity, despite the fact that contemporary critics admired them as much, or, in some cases, more than Bashevis himself. This course will not only focus on the literary masterpieces of all three writers - including Bashevis' classic demon tales and children's stories - but investigate the remarkable opportunity this family offers to discuss the role of biography in literary activity, including but not limited to the memoir and the family novel.

Please contact Jeremy Dauber for more details.

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