2019 - 2020

  A Women's Language? Gender, Sexuality and Yiddish Culture                                            
Hannah Pollin GalayGilman-humanities361Tue1200-1400 Sem  1
University credit hours:  2.0

Course description

What is the connection between language and gender concepts? How do we learn gender and sexuality from literature? How—throughout the course of history—has literature enabled limitations on the role of women in society and how can literature also help to change that? In this course, we will discuss these questions through the prism of Yiddish literature.

Around the time of its inception (roughly in the 16th Century), Yiddish literature was considered a language for women and “uneducated men.” The modern period brought about radical changes in Yiddish literature. Nonetheless, important writers such as Avrom Goldfaden, Sholem Aleichem, Mendele Moykher Sforim and Yitshok Bashevis Singer used the imagined “femininity” of Yiddish in their literary projects. In addition, women writers like Kadya Molodovsky, Celia Dropkin, Miriam Karpilov, and Chava Rosenfarb activated the imagined connection between women and Yiddish in order to critique it and to open up a new space for female expression.

The course will include literature and cinema that is considered central to the Yiddish canon as well as works by women who have yet to gain significant recognition. The class will be conducted in Hebrew and no knowledge of Yiddish is necessary.

*In order to receive credit for this as a prerequisite for the MA Yiddish program, one will need to add a small number of additional readings.

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