Joseph M Butwin
Examines the literary and cultural production of American Jews from the colonial period to the present time. Considers ways in which American Jews assimilate and resist assimilation while Jewish writers, filmmakers, playwrights, and graphic novelists imitate and alter American life and literature. Offered: jointly with ENGL 357; AWSp.
In January 1938 Benny Goodman brought jazz to Carnegie Hall; later that summer the great Hank Greenberg hit 58 homeruns for the Detroit Tigers, just two behind Babe Ruth. In 1945 Bess Myerson, a Jewish girl from the Bronx, became Miss America. It would appear that after the rigors of immigration American Jews had finally—in the metaphoric sense—“arrived” in the new world. The enormous success of a several generations of Jewish writers and independent movie makers in the post-War period would seem to confirm that sense of cultural integration. But it is precisely the persistence of old—that is, old-world and immigrant—obsessions that would be the signature of this apparent success. The earlier experience of downright aliens would continue to nourish less tangible forms of alienation in the work of Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, J. D. Salinger, Joseph Heller, Philip Roth, Edward Lewis Wallant, Grace Paley, Francine Prose, Allen Ginsberg, David Shields, Woody Allen, the Coen Brothers… Selected readings and viewings. Lecture, discussion, short essays.
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