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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Galya Diment
Seattle Campus

Special Topics

Content varies.

Class description

The course will examine early Jewish films (in Yiddish or Russian) produced in tsarist Russia, Soviet Russia, and Poland in the span of 25 years, from the very beginnings of silent film to the early years of sound film, from the twilight years of Russian monarchy (and the notorious Pale of Settlement) through Bolshevik Revolution and up to the spread of Hitlerism in Europe. No prerequisites. All readings and discussions will be in English. All films have English intertitles or subtitles.

Required Books (UBookstore): 1. Sholem Aleichem, Tevye the Dairyman and The Railroad Stories 2. Sholem Aleichem, The Letters of Menakhem-Mendl & Sheyne-Sheyndl and Motl, the Cantor’s Son 3. Michael Alexander. Jazz Age Jews 4. S. An-ski. The Dybbuk 5. Isaac Babel. Red Cavalry and Other Stories 6. Walter Benjamin. Moscow Diary 7. Jeffrey Veidlinger. The Moscow State Jewish Theater: Jewish Culture on the Soviet Stage 8. Robert Wienberg, Stalin’s Forgotten Zion: Birobidzhan and the Making of a Soviet Homeland

Preliminary syllabus:

I. SHOLEM ALEICHEM AND YIDDISH LITERATURE AND FILM Week 1: W: Introduction. Russian Pale of Settlement. Wedding Day (1912) F. Sholem Aleichem. Tevye, Motl, and Menahem Mendl stories

Week 2 (SCREENINGS AND READINGS): M: Sholem Aleichem Menahem Mendel stories. Jewish Luck (1925) W: Tevye stories. Laughter Through Tears (1928) F: Tevye stories. Tevye the Milkman (1935, Poland) and Tevye (1939, USA)

Week 3: (SCREENINGS AND READINGS CONT): M: MLK DAY W: Motl, Tevye, and Mendl stories. Fiddler on the Roof (1971, USA) (Part I) F: Motl, Tevye, and Mendl stories. Fiddler on the Roof (1971, USA) (Part II)

Week 4: M: Sholem Aleichem. Motl in Stories and Early Film. Discussion. W: Sholem Aleichem. Tevye in Stories and Early Film. Discussion. F: Sholem Aleichem. Mendl in Stories and Early Film. Discussion.

II. ISAAC BABEL, STORIES TO (UNFINISHED) FILM Week 5: M: SCREENING: Benya Krik (1926). READING: “Odessa stories? W. “Odessa stories? F. READING: “Red Cavalry stories.? Plus Comrade Abram (1919)

III. YIDDISH FILM AND THEATER IN STALIN ERA Week 6: M: SCREENING: The Return of Nathan Becker (1932). READING: The Moscow State Yiddish Theater

W: The Moscow State Yiddish Theater F: The Moscow State Yiddish Theater MIDTERM

Week 7: M: SCREENING. Seekers of Happiness (1936). READING: Stalin’s Forgotten Zion W: Stalin’s Forgotten Zion F: Stalin’s Forgotten Zion

IV. “CANTOR’S SON? IN US FILMS Week 8: M: PRESIDENT’S DAY W: SCREENING: Jazz Singer (1927). READING: Jazz Age Jews F: Jazz Age Jews. Plus Kol Nidre (1939), Overture to Glory (1939)

V. AN-SKI’S DYBBUK. Week 9: M: SCREENING. The Dybbuk (1937). READING: The Dybbuk W: The Dybbuk. F: Other pre- and post-WWII Yiddish films in Poland: Children Must Laugh (1935); Yiddl with the Fiddle (1936); Film Unfinished (1941-3); Our Children (1948)

VI. LEAVING THE PALE BEHIND: DZIGA VERTOV AND ABRAM ROOM Week 10: M: SCREENING: Man With A Movie Camera (1929). READING: Moscow Diary W: SCREENING: Bed and Sofa (1927). Moscow Diary F: Vertov and Room at the Cutting Edge of the Early Soviet Cinema. Discussion.


Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Screenings, Lectures, and Discussion

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

take-home midterm and take-home final

Class participation, midterm, final

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Galya Diment
Date: 10/18/2011