This course follows and analyzes the transformations in Israeli literature and cinema. The lens through which we study this canon changes each semester. These "lenses" include: "Childhood," "Holocaust," "Cities," "Madness," and others. Israeli works constitute much of the course's material, but European and American film and fiction play comparative roles. For a description of the current theme, please see the websites of Cinema and Media Studies, Jewish Studies, NELC, COML, or ENGL. This course will follow and analyze the transformation of Israeli literature and cinema from instruments of suppression into a means of processing this national trauma. While Israeli works constitute much of the course's material, European and American film and fiction play comparative roles.
Section 401 - LEC
Spring 2018: "I Want to Die in My Bed", an anti-war poem by the young Yehuda Amichai, epitomizes the rebellion of Israeli authors in the 1950s. Like “In Flanders Fields” by John McRae, it became an anti-war anthem of sorts. Amichai and fellow poets Natan Zach and David Avidan rejected their predecessors’ glorification of nationalism and sacrifice, and felt disillusioned by the post-war reality of statehood. It took twenty years for Israeli cinema to express a similar sentiment. Most Israeli films in the ‘50s and ‘60s ideologically resembled Exodus, the American cinematic portrayal of Zionism filmed in Israel. Fiction writers like A.B. Yehoshua, Aharon Appelfeld and Amos Oz preceded the awakening of the film industry. Their short stories opposed war and undermined both the status of the kibbutz and collectivist ideology. Scholars would later dub all these authors "The Generation of the State" because they were the first to publish in the newly-established State of Israel and they forged the future of Hebrew literature. This course examines the various paths of artistic revolutions in Israel, juxtaposing Zionist works like the poetry of the 1948 war or the film Exodus with the avant-garde that disrupted them and studying parallel works from English literature. There will be 5-6 film screenings. The content of this course changes from year to year and therefore students may take it for credit more than once.
MW 0200PM-0330PM


Jewish Studies Program
711 Williams Hall, 255 S. 36th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305
215-898-6654 / 215-573-6026 fax / jsp-info@sas.upenn.edu