REL 259 Ethics of Jewish American Fiction (W)

Last offered Spring 2014

Cross Listed as ENGL259, JWST259
After the Second World War, Jewish American writers who wrote about Jewish characters and Jewish themes were increasingly celebrated as central figures in American fiction. Isaac Bashevis Singer, Bernard Malamud, Saul Bellow, and Philip Roth are among those who gained prominence in this period. These writers were literary innovators and often addressed broad humanistic themes, but they also struggled with profound questions that arose in the postwar period about Jewishness, the legacy of the Holocaust, and what it means to be an American. In this course we will read the above authors and others. We will focus, in particular, on the distinctive ethical and political ideas, emotions, and aspirations that animate their work. The course will begin with a study of theoretical approaches that will provide the basis for our ethical criticism: we will read, for instance, Lionel Trilling, Wayne Booth, Martha Nussbaum, and Noël Carroll. Then we will delve into the fiction, following a trail that begins in the postwar period and continues in fictions by Cynthia Ozick, Erica Jong, Rebecca Goldstein, Michael Chabon, Gary Shteyngart, and others. Can we find a distinctive Jewish American ethics in Jewish American fiction?
Class Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: one take-home exam on theoretical approaches to ethical criticism; five 5-page essays (one of which will be a slightly longer re-write)
Additional Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis
Additional Info2:
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preference: Religion majors, Jewish Studies concentrators, and English majors
Department Notes:
Material and Lab Fees:
Distribution Notes: meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under REL or JWST; meets Division 1 requirement is registration is under ENGL
Divisional Attributes: Division II, Writing Intensive
Other Attributes: JWST Core Electives
Enrollment Limit: 19
Expected Enrollment: 18
Class Number: 3582
CLASSES ATTR INSTRUCTORS TIMES CLASS NUMBER
REL 259 SEM Ethics/Jewish American Fiction (W) Division 2: Social StudiesWriting Intensive Jeffrey I. Israel
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