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A Brief Introduction to
Yiddish Literature

Most Jews have heard of Tevye the Dairyman of Fiddler on the Roof fame, but few have read or explored the masterpieces of Yiddish literature. This seminar course will introduce students to the greatest authors of the modern Yiddish literary tradition from the late 19th century onward—and will demonstrate how everything people think they know about Yiddish-speaking culture is wrong. In fiction and poetry, these Yiddish writers and artists responded to the dramatic upheavals and cataclysms of their time. In a language and culture under enormous and constant pressure, they managed to invent entirely new styles to express it. Utterly unlike literature in any other language, we will get a taste of this fantastically rich tradition, whose clarity and candor show us the potential and limits of art in making sense of the world.