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Yiddish Language Courses


Beginning Yiddish (AMELANG 140A, B, C)

This course provides an introduction to the Yiddish language and to its various cultural expressions. There are no prerequisites, and no prior familiarity with Yiddish or Hebrew is assumed. The course begins with the Yiddish "alef-beys" (which is similar but not identical with the Hebrew one) and moves on to cover the basics of Yiddish grammar and vocabulary. The course aims to enable students to converse in Yiddish--to speak about themselves and to ask others about themselves and about objects in the world (the classroom, work, home, family)--to read and write simple Yiddish texts, and to understand something of the past and the present of Yiddish culture, as reflected in stories, poems, songs, and material from the contemporary Yiddish press and the Yiddish internet. Aspects of the language which will be covered include the Yiddish alphabet in printed and written form, present and past tense verb patterns, along with "modal" verbs, and articles and adjectives in nominative, accusative, and dative cases.
GER Foreign Language, Autumn, Winter, Spring, 4 units
Contact: Jon Levitow

Yiddish Literature Courses


From Vampires to Bathroom Walls: Folklore and Literature (DLCL 70N)

In the early 19th century, some Europeans started seeing the stories and songs of illiterate peasants as folklore to be collected, preserved, and perhaps transformed into new literature, art, and music. These folktales, such as legends of vampires, continue to inspire artists. The idea of folklore has expanded to include the shared practices or utterances of any group with at least one linking factor, including latrinalia (wall writings in a public bathroom). Sources include folklore from German, English, Russian, and Yiddish sources, and theoretical essays. Students collect living folklore, and analyze and present it.
GER Writing-2, Spring, 4 units
Contact: Gabriella Safran

Modernism and the Jewish Voice in Europe (GERGEN 221A, COMPLIT 247, SLAVGEN 221)

Some of the most haunting literary voices of the 20th century emerged from the Jewish communities of Eastern and Central Europe. The Jewishness of the modernists is thematized, asking whether it contributed to shared attitudes toward text, history, or identity. Their works are situated in specific linguistic traditions: Yiddish, Hebrew, Russian, Polish, or German. Primary readings from Ansky, Bialik, Mandelstam, Babel, Schulz, Kafka, Celan; secondary readings in history, E. European literature, and theory, including Marx, Freud, Benjamin, and Arendt.
GER DB-Hum, Spring, 3-4 units
Contact: Gabriella Safran, Amir Eshel