GER 3631: Jewish and German Writing at the Margins: Multilingualism, Race, Memory

3 CreditsOnline Available

How are minority stories, novels, and poems constructed at the margins of a majority culture’s language? This course addresses this question by exploring the complexity of Jewish culture in modernity, with a focus on 20th and 21st century German and American literature. We will first tackle the open-ended and endlessly productive question of what is meant by Jewish culture. What is a Jewish writer and is there such a thing as Jewish writing? What makes a text \"Jewish\"? How do Jewish authors challenge the assumptions of majority culture in their work? What role do multilingualism and translation play in the formation of Jewish cultures at the margins? We will trace the lines of affinity between the U.S. and Europe to explore the entangled histories of Germans and Jews, and between German Jews and Turkish Germans, as we look at works that challenge and expand the definition of Jewishness in the 20th century. Additional topics to be considered include how the legacies of American slavery and European colonialism shape our understandings of the Nazi genocide of the Jews, and whether Jewish writing should be understood under the rubric of \"whiteness.\" Moving beyond the approach to German Jewish literary studies anchored in Weimar Germany, we will explore the circulation of Jewish memory between Europe and the U.S. in the aftermath of the Holocaust. We will read works by, among others, Franz Kafka, Paul Celan, Gershon Scholem, Hannah Arendt, Benjamin Stein, Walter Benjamin, Barbara Honigmann, Hélène Cixous, Raymond Federman, W.G. Sebald, Allen Ginsberg, Adeena Karasick, Alfred Kazin, Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Bernard Malamud, Avram Sutzkever, Zafer Şenocak. prereq: No knowledge of German required; some work in German must be done in order to count this course toward a German minor or a German, Scandinavian, Dutch major.

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