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ENGLISH 145J: The Jewish-American Novel: Diaspora, Privilege, Anxiety, Comedy (AMSTUD 145J, JEWISHST 155J)

Jews are sometimes referred to as 'the people of the book.' Would Portnoy's Complaint count as a book that constitutes Jewish-American peoplehood? What about Fear of Flying? This seminar introduces students to influential Jewish-American novels (and some short stories and film) from the late nineteenth century to the present day. These works return time and again to questions of diaspora, race, queer social belonging, and the duty to a Jewish past, mythical or real. Through close readings of short stories and novels coupled with secondary readings about Jewish-American history and culture, we will explore how American Jewishness is constructed differently in changing historical climates. What makes a text Jewish? What do we mean by Jewish humor and Jewish seriousness? How do Jewish formulations of gender and power respond to Jews' entrance into the white American mainstream? As we read, we'll think through and elaborate on models of ethnicity, privilege, sexuality, and American pluralism. Authors include Cahan, Yezierska, Singer, Roth, Bellow, Malamud, Ozick, Mailer, Jong, and Englander.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4-5 | UG Reqs: WAY-ED
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