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NEAR E 317 A: Jewish Life In Literature And Film

Meeting Time: 
TThF 1:30pm - 3:20pm
SAV 264
Joint Sections: 
C LIT 357 A
Professor Naomi Sokoloff
Naomi B. Sokoloff

Syllabus Description:

Jewish Life in Literature and Film

This course explores major themes of Jewish life and Jewish identity in modern literature and cinema. Topics include

  • tradition and modernity; the forces of enlightenment and assimilation as they have challenged religious orthodoxy;
  • mass immigration – from Europe to North America and from the Diaspora to Israel;
  • responses to catastrophe: antisemitism, persecution and the Holocaust;
  • Jewish nationalism, Zionism and the Arab Israeli conflict;
  • changing relations between men and women, women’s changing roles as a result of upheavals in modern Jewish life

We will draw on principles of literary theory and film theory to compare the telling and retelling of stories in different media.



Students are expected to do the required reading, to view assigned films, to attend class, and to participate in class discussion.  There will be two tests, a take-home essay exam, and several short in-class writing assignments.


Final grades will be determined as follows:

  • Tests (50%)
  • Take-home exam:  3 essays, 750 words each (40%).   
  • Class participation and in-class writing (10%)

Required Reading:

Tevye the Dairyman, Sholem Aleichem

Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank

Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer

In addition, there will be some short poetry and narrative excerpts.


Catalog Description: 
Major themes of Jewish life treated in modern narrative and cinema. Topics include religious tradition and modernity. Jewish immigration to America, responses to the Holocaust and Zionism. Offered: jointly with JEW ST 318.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
November 14, 2017 - 9:33pm