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YIDD W3520 - Magic & Monsters In Yidd Lit


A Serious Man, the 2009 movie by the Coen Brothers opens with a Yiddish folk tale featuring a dybbuk. Dybbuks, golems, magicians, and monsters haunt not only Yiddish literature but also the contemporary cinema, as illustrated by such recent films as The Unborn and The Possession. Why are we so attracted to dybbuks, spirit possession, magic, and monsters in the twenty-first century? This course will focus on magic, monsters, dybbuks, demons, and golems in Yiddish literature and beyond, including film and popular culture. We will approach the supernatural motif from the perspective of gender, body, and performance studies, and will explore the questions of memory, trauma, and identity. The aim of the course is to encourage students to discuss and critically engage with the various texts and film adaptations listed on the syllabus in an attempt to answer the following questions: In what ways do these works explore, interrogate with, and reflect on human experience? What do they tell us about the powers of good and evil? How relevant are they in the twenty-first century? The course puts emphasis on developing the skills of critical, analytical, and abstract thinking in relation to the discussed works, as well as the ability to express that critical thinking in writing. No knowledge of Yiddish required.

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