JST 220 - Modern Polish-Jewish Culture and Literatures
Before WWII and the Holocaust, Poland was a country of many cultures, languages and religions, where East European Jewish culture flourished for over 700 years. When Poland gained independence following WWI, Polish Jews -- who represented from 30-80% of residents in every Polish town and city -- helped to shape modern culture in three languages, Polish, Yiddish and Hebrew. In this course we enter the rich and dynamic world of Polish Jewish Culture through engagement with films, short stories, song lyrics, poetry and essays in English translation. Studying modern, secular Jewish culture from pre-war Poland, we ask questions relevant to our own lives in the US today: How do communities develop their distinct culture and language, while contributing to the larger democratic society as a whole? How is assimilation in pre-war Poland similar to or different from assimilation into American culture? How do literature and music change when nationalism is on the rise? Our course does not focus on the Holocaust; yet our study of the rich and diverse world of Polish Jewry is informed at all times by the knowledge that this culture was all but destroyed in the 20th century, and by considerations of how Polish-Jewish culture is today being differently remembered, understood and revived by both Jews and Poles in Poland, and by Jewish communities worldwide. | Course Information: Same as POL 220 and CEES 220. Prerequisite(s): ENGL 160 or ENGL 161.