ENGL 259
Ethics of Jewish American Fiction Fall 2015 Division I; Writing-Intensive; Cross-listed as JWST259 / ENGL259 / REL259
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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, Cynthia Ozick 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 Erica Jong, Rebecca Goldstein, Michael Chabon, Gary Shteyngart, and others. Can we find a distinctive Jewish American ethics in Jewish American fiction?
The Class: Type: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 18
Class#: 1813
Requirements/Evaluation: class participation, one take-home exam on theoretical approaches to ethical criticism; four short essays
Extra Info: not available for the fifth course option
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preference: Religion majors, Jewish Studies concentrators, and English majors
Distributions: Division I; Writing-Intensive;
Distribution Notes: meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under REL or JWST; meets Division 1 requirement is registration is under ENGL
Attributes: JWST Core Electives;

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