Yiddish

Faculty

Courses

Jewish Films and Literature

GRMN 261 / ENGL 287 / FILM 251 / JWST 261
Distribution III: May be counted as a Distributional course in Arts & Letters.

From the 1922 silent film "Hungry Hearts" through the first "talkie," "The Jazz Singer," produced in 1927, and beyond "Schindler's List," Jewish characters have confronted the problems of their Jewishness on the silver screen for a general American audience. Alongside this Hollywood tradition of Jewish film, Yiddish film blossomed from independent producers between 1911 and 1939, and interpreted literary masterpieces, from Shakespeare's "King Lear" to Sholom Aleichem's "Teyve the Dairyman," primarily for an immigrant, urban Jewish audience. In this course, we will study a number of films and their literary sources (in fiction and drama), focusing on English language and Yiddish films within the framework of three dilemmas of interpretation: a) the different ways we "read" literature and film, b) the various ways that the media of fiction, drama, and film "translate" Jewish culture, and c) how these translations of Jewish culture affect and are affected by their implied audience.

Instructor: Kathryn Hellerstein

Women in Jewish Literature

GRMN 262 / JWST 162 / WSTD 433

This course will introduce Penn students of literature, women's studies, and Jewish studies -- both undergraduates and graduates -- to the long tradition of women as readers, writers, and subjects in Jewish literature (in translation from Yiddish, Hebrew, and in English). By examining the interaction of culture, gender, and religion in a variety of literary works by Jewish authors, from the seventeenth century to the present, the course will argue for the importance of Jewish women's writing. Authors include Glikl of Hameln, Cynthia Ozick, Anzia Yezierska, Kadya Molodowsky, Esther Raab, Anne Frank, and others. "Jewish woman, who knows your life? In darkness you have come, in darkness do you go." J. L. Gordon (1890)

Instructor: Kathryn Hellerstein

Jewish American Literature

GRMN 263 / ENGL 079 / JWST 261
Distribution III: May be counted as a Distributional course in Arts & Letters.

This course introduces novels, short fiction and poetry written in America by Jews. Issues of Jewish identity and ethnicity in an American context inform our discussions. We will consider how literary form and language develop as Jewish writers "immigrated" from Yiddish, Hebrew, and other languages to American English. Using the new Jewish American Literature: A Norton Anthology and other texts, we will read authors who wrote between 1800 and 2000. These writers include: Isaac Mayer Wise, Emma Lazarus, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Celia Dropkin, Abraham Cahan, Anzia Yezierska, Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Cynthia Ozick, Allegra Goodman.

Instructor: Kathryn Hellerstein

Translating Cultures: Literature on and in Translation

GRMN 264 / COML 260 / JWST 264
Benjamin Franklin Seminar, All readings and lectures in English 

"Languages are not strangers to one another," writes the great critic and translator Walter Benjamin.  Yet two people who speak different languages have a difficult time talking to one another, unless they both know a third, common language or can find someone who knows both their languages to translate what they want to say.  Without translation, most of us would not be able to read the Bible or Homer, the foundations of Western culture.  Americans wouldn't know much about the cultures of Europe, China, Africa, South America, and the Middle East.  And people who live in or come from these places would not know much about American culture.  Without translation, Americans would not know much about the diversity of cultures within America.  The very fabric of our world depends upon translation between people, between cultures, between texts.

With a diverse group of readings—autobiography, fiction, poetry, anthropology, and literary theory—this course will address some fundamental questions about translating language and culture.  What does it mean to translate?  How do we read a text in translation?  What does it mean to live between two languages?  Who is a translator?   What are different kinds of literary and cultural translation?  What are their principles and theories?  Their assumptions and practices?  Their effects on and implications for the individual and the society?

Instructor: Kathryn Hellerstein

Yiddish Literature and Culture in Eastern Europe

GRMN 265 / GRMN 565 / JWST 265

This course presents the major trends in Yiddish literature and culture in Eastern Europe from the mid-19th century through World War II. Divided into four sections-"The Shtetl," "Religious vs. Secular Jews," "Language and Culture," and "Confronting Destruction"-this course will examine how Jews expressed the central aspects of their experience in Eastern Europe through history, literature (fiction, poetry, drama, memoir), film, and song. All readings and lectures in English.

Instructor: Kathryn Hellerstein

Beginning Yiddish I

YDSH 101 / JWST031

Yiddish is a 1000-year-old language with a rich heritage. This course introduces the skills of reading, writing, and speaking Yiddish through the study of grammar, enriched by cultural materials such as song, literature, folklore, and film. This course assumes no previous knowledge of Yiddish.

Instructor: Kathryn Hellerstein

Beginning Yiddish II

YDSH 102 / JWST032
Prerequisite(s): YDSH 101 or permission of the instructor.

In this course, you can continue to develop basic reading, writing and speaking skills. Discover treasures of Yiddish culture: songs, literature, folklore, and films.

Instructor: Kathryn Hellerstein

Intermediate Yiddish I

YDSH 103 / JWST 033
Prerequisite(s): YDSH 102 or permission of the instructor.

A continuation of YDSH 102/JWST 032, Beginning Yiddish II, this course develops the skills of reading, writing, and speaking Yiddish on the intermediate level through the study of grammar and cultural materials, such as literature, newspapers, films, songs, radio programs.

Instructor: Alexander Botwinik

Intermediate Yiddish II

YDSH 104 / JWST 034
Prerequisite(s): YDSH 103 or permission of the instructor.

Continuation of YDSH 103. Emphasis on reading texts and conversation.

Instructor: Alexander Botwinik

Readings in Modern Yiddish Literature

YDSH 108 / JWST438
Pre-requisite YDSH 104 or permission of instructor

Instructor: Kathryn Hellerstein

Translating Cultures: Literature on and in Translation

GRMN 010-301 / COML430 / JWST409

"Languages are not strangers to one another," writes the great critic and translator Walter Benjamin. Yet two people who speak different languages have a difficult time talking to one another, unless they both know a third, common language or can find someone who knows both their languages to translate what they want to say. Without translation, most of us would not be able to read the Bible or Homer, the foundations of Western culture. Americans wouldn't know much about the cultures of Europe, China, Africa, South America, and the Middle East. And people who live in or come from these places would not know much about American culture. Without translation, Americans would not know much about the diversity of cultures within America. The very fabric of our world depends upon translation between people, between cultures, between texts.

With a diverse group of readings—autobiography, fiction, poetry, anthropology, and literary theory—this course will address some fundamental questions about translating language and culture. What does it mean to translate? How do we read a text in translation? What does it mean to live between two languages? Who is a translator? What are different kinds of literary and cultural translation? What are their principles and theories? Their assumptions and practices? Their effects on and implications for the individual and the society?

Instructor: Kathryn Hellerstein