A bastardized German, a jargon, a woman's vernacular, an old world language, a dying and ghostly tongue, a Hasidic language, a queer language, a radical language-these are just a few of the ways that Yiddish has been labeled over its one-thousand-year history. This course will trace the shifting politics attached to Yiddish from its early modern beginnings as a language of translation between Jewish and non-Jewish cultures to its postwar vacillation between a language of mourning and nostalgia, Jewish American humor, Hasidic isolation, and contemporary Jewish radicalism. Through poetry, fiction, essay, and film, we will discuss what it might mean to discover "the secret language of the Jews" at the origins of Jewish socialism and at the foundations of diaspora nationalism. All texts will be read in translation.
Faculty: Saul Zaritt
Semester: Full Fall Term